"...in the temple and from house to house..." Acts 2:46, 5:42, 20:20 The New Testament Church had this pattern of meeting together on both a larger scale and in small groups. Because of the different dynamics of each setting, there is important stuff that takes place in each. The Church of the 20th and now 21st centuries has had more of an emphasis on the "big" gathering, even referring to it as "the main meeting" and relegating the small gatherings as optional. In the New Testament, however, the small, relationally-geared meetings from house to house were a vital and regular part of their lives in Christ. Most of how God instructs us to live--to be understood as, the fullness of life--cannot be learned or carried out in the big gatherings, significant and life-giving as they are. Consider these truths:
The priority of God's heart is love. (1 John 4:16)
The commandment to love fulfills every other command God gives us. (Romans 13:8-10)
Love is the distinguishing mark that we are His disciples. (John 13:34-35)
Love is learned in the context of relationships. (Romans 12:10)
There are over 30 different "one another" directives in the New Testament. (Such as Romans 12:10 above)
Most of the New Testament is instruction on how to care for one another. (Matthew-Revelation)
Having only a diet of "going to church" on Sunday mornings, it is impossible to fully live out the abundant life Jesus came to give us. Life in Christ is all about learning to be loved and to love. It doesn't happen well in a larger meeting. However, small groups of people intentionally gathering for that purpose are an excellent incubator. That's why we of the Upper Room are engaging in Fellowship Groups.
The purpose of these groups is to develop life-giving relationships that are highly encouraging, supportive, and valued. I may be getting the cart before the horse but here are 3 things we want you to know up front:
Join a group based on who is in it. -- You're more likely to develop valuable relationships if you're with people you want to get to know.
If it seems like the group is a bad fit, bailout within the first 3 weeks with no apprehension or guilt. -- We want you to develop great relationships so a bad experience would only hinder you from trying again.
If you go all ten weeks and still don't gel with the group, try a new one the next session. -- You are not locked in. Even if most everyone else wants to stay, you are free to try another group. And if it takes trying several groups to find the right fit, we want you to do so. This is important!
Fellowship Groups meet every week and last for 10 weeks.
There will be Spring, Fall, and Winter sessions with breaks in between. Summers will officially be off.
Groups may choose to stay together for the next session or even meet through the Summer if they like.
Though groups may be developed around other studies, the "default" is discussion and further study around the most recent Sunday morning message.
Enroll in a group at the Welcome Center on Sunday morning. Note the time and day they meet to make sure that works for you.
Since the quality of the relationships breaks down when the groups are too large, groups will be considered full when there are 14 people signed up.