The Thursday Night “Flock”
From May until November or December each year, I teach Bible in our home on Thursday evenings. I originally started teaching ten or eleven years ago at the local LePeep restaurant at Keystone at the Crossing, in Indy, and as I went through seminary, the lunchtime study gave me an outlet to pass along all the great things I was learning. However, I was only able to teach thirty minutes before people had to get back to work after eating, and I found that I missed getting fed spiritually in the process. Eventually, after five years or so, the study ran its course and we moved it into our home each week on Thursday evenings.
That was more than six years ago and our little group has settled into some pretty deep theological study together; and I still get really jazzed doing it. Aside from the lessons each week, we have had three marriages that I have performed throughout the years; two for couples in the group who have married, and one for the daughter of a group member. We have done baptisms in the swimming pools of several people in the group, and we periodically share communion together. In the words of one of my seminary professors, Dr. Branine, we’re doing “church.”
Of course, we don’t call it that, as all of our members belong to other churches, and what we have together augments what we get from our other spiritual homes. And, if we are doing “church”, we must be a part-time church, because we take the winters off – from December until May. And I think all of us are little concerned about becoming too legalistic and organized, so I had to chuckle tonight when we kind of decided to refer to ourselves as a “flock.” I have to wonder if we look like some of the original house churches of the first century after Pentecost. Now that would be pretty cool! And we are diverse; Catholic, Evangelical, Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian and I probably lean a little toward Baptist due to my theological training, although I would probably claim Evangelical as my denominational preference.
And one of the really great things about our group is that we focus on what brings us together, and not what separates us. You would think that in such a diverse group, we would find fertile ground to really have profound theological disagreements. And sometimes we do – but we have learned to accept opposing views and to be tolerant of people who may have been taught from a different perspective, or lean a certain direction. After all, as we are fond of saying, we’re all going to the same place.
There is one non-negotiable that we agree on. We believe in genuine authentic Biblical teaching. I personally believe in the the inerrancy of the Bible, and we never compromise in our desire to understand the real word of God. We have all grown spiritually during our years together; and I still marvel at how far we have come, individually and as a group, in our walk with Christ. But none of this would have happened without our commitment to each other. The tough questions, the desire for deeper understanding, and a true love of Christ are all benchmarks of the “flock.”
The verse for tonight, of course, is Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Because no matter how hard we try, real community does not happen in large groups – it happens in small groups; those with a Biblical center who are dedicated to holding one another accountable and growing in their walk with Christ. And we are doing that! Praise God.
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that even if you really don’t have the time, you should try and commit yourself to a small group study of some kind. Because this is one of the ways that you grow in Christ. It’s tough to learn the Bible on your own, and most of us need someone to show us the way. I know I did. And my prayer is that you will commit to become more Biblically literate. Too many of us know a few verses and call it a day – but that is not enough. The more you know about the Bible, the easier it is for you to draw yourself closer to Christ – and the less likely it is that you will be pulled away from the Creator by the dark side. None of us are infallible, and it takes a village to make sure that we all get the the Promised Land. And, hopefully, in some small but important way, these posts help draw you closer to Christ and also increase your personal knowledge of the greatest book ever written. And if you don’t have your own small group right now, that’s okay. You’re part of the TBTB group! Grace and Peace…..