Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to be one of the disciples that followed Jesus’ ministry on earth? The Bible contains a lot of teaching moments and conversations that Jesus had with the disciples, but I often wonder what everyday life would have looked like for them; unrecorded times of fellowship around the dinner table, sitting around a campfire, or traveling down winding mountain roads were sure to contain memorable moments that made lasting impressions on them as well.
For years, I have displayed a portrait entitled “Jesus Laughing” on one of the walls of my office. It is often a topic of conversation with visitors because the artist did such a wonderful job of illustrating a joyful emotion bursting from Christ as his head is tilted back in exuberant belly laughter. The picture reminds me that Jesus was not merely a stoic figure that solemnly walked around teaching, healing, and leading people to an understanding of who He was and His mission on earth. Jesus, like all of us, had a personality. He shared in the wide range of God-given emotions that are available to us as well, and he used his emotions, experiences, and knowledge to build significant relationships with His disciples.
Even though we will never know the full details of what it was like to be a disciple to Jesus as He walked this earth, it is possible to be one of His disciples today. Just as their relationships with Christ and each other played a key factor in the spiritual maturity of Peter, James, John, and the other disciples, it is also important for us to keep in mind the role that our relationships play in our discipleship journey.
At Mercy Hill, we believe that discipleship happens in community. For this reason, we stress that we are a church of Community Groups not a church with Community Groups. What we mean is that Community Groups are not just a part of what we do for spiritual discipleship. Instead, we believe that the discipleship journey takes place throughout the week in community with other believers. There is something about sharing life with others and seeking Biblical instruction that creates opportunity for growth in Christ.
Because Community Groups are such a big deal, we want to make sure that we are constantly providing opportunities for people to join in. Three times a year (January, April, and September) we put together an event called Grouplink with the purpose of launching new Community Groups for people who are not currently part of a group. We have also realized that there are times throughout the year that Grouplink seems to be too far away, and people want to get connected to life-changing community sooner.
That is where Starter Groups come in. Led by members of our leadership team, Starter Groups are open to anyone not currently involved in a Community Group. The group meets at our Edgefield campus for food, fellowship, and Bible teaching (elements that are a normal part of Community Groups as well). Starter Groups give people the opportunity to catch a glimpse of what it is like to be in a Community Group, to meet new people that are also looking to join a Community Group at the next Grouplink, and to immediately get involved in relationship building and discipleship.
The next round of Starter Groups will begin this Wednesday, July 29th and will run for four Wednesday nights. Remember, the next Grouplink isn’t until September, why not jump in now? And when Starter Groups are over, you may have a better idea of who to join a group with! Click here to find out more info and register for Starter Groups.