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Harvesting the Word

November 9, 2012

Jesus told a parable we have called the parable of the Sower. One commentator has said it should be better called the parable of the soils. Its message is that God’s word can produce a harvest in your life, so what type of soil should I be to enable it to flourish? This blog is not a study of the parable but a call to see church as a place that should enable this to happen. I believe as God’s word is sown on a Sunday morning, it needs a house group (cell group) to be a place that encourages us to be good soil and allow that word to produce a harvest in our lives and in Jesus’ explanation of the parable not to be distracted from the word so as to choke it or to be so overwhelmed with life to stop it bearing fruit. (Perhaps this strategy of teaching and discussion is one of the reasons that the alpha course has been so used by God)

This blog is a call to sow the word of God on a Sunday and allow it to flourish in a house group (cell group). It is a call to be put yourself in a church that preaches the word but also allows a small group setting to allow it to flourishes. It is a call for churches to have house groups that apply the Sunday teaching. So why is it important for house groups to follow the Sunday teaching rather than one of the many other great bible study tools available to us. Here are my reasons from my experience (although this is secondary to getting groups to study the bible – and on occasion these studies can be used to breath fresh life into a group ). It is not exhaustive (please let me know your reflections) and it is a random list in no particular order or rank. So here goes.

1. It maintains the unity of the church – with a diversity of personalities and groups, it keeps us walking and growing together and on the same path. Dealing with issues, topics and areas of disagreement together as a whole body.

2. The teaching on a Sunday is not a random choice of the Pastor/leaders but a ‘word in season’ given to the church through the Pastor from the Lord. In this way it is prophetic and as Scripture teaches prophecy needs to be ‘weighed up’.

3. God’s word is a treasure trove and deep well. We need to explore and dig deeply if we are to draw treasures and refreshment from it. Thirty minutes on a Sunday is not sufficient for this. If we are to move from milk to solid food we need to spend more time on topics and passages for us to draw from it.

4. The church in UK is full of scriptural knowledge but little wisdom. Our great need is not to just to hear God’s word but obey and apply. In the analogy of James many people look in a mirror on a Sunday morning but go away and forget what they look like and what changes need to be made. In house groups we challenge one another to apply what we have learned and be accountable in living it out, rather than moving on to the next thing.,

5. We need to recognise the body. Not all have the gift of teaching but God has given the church pastors, teachers, apostles and prophets who can teach, lead, share God’s word in our lives. Let us value them, listen and learn from them. We do this by valuing what they are sharing by reflecting and applying what we are learning. They have been called, anointed, gifted and trained and we need to receive them as a gift to us.

6. It should prevent house groups focussing on just trying to understand a passage but gives more time to application and have opportunity to pray it through and minister to one another.

7. It should allow the time in a house group to be more focussed on a passage and allow more time for other aspects of a house groups life – worship, witness and ministering to one another.

8. It means if people miss either Sunday or a house group, there is opportunity to continue to feel part of what the Lord is doing through the other. There is also more opportunity and value to catch up through listening to sermons, discussing with friends etc.

9. Although not ideal but if people can only make either church or a house group they can still feel part of the wider church.

10. It means we don’t come ‘cold’ to a house group but already have had some thoughts and personal reflections.

11. It practically demonstrates the two wings of the church as necessary and working together – the Sunday celebration and house group.

12. It allows more opportunity for testimony and sharing what the Lord has been saying to individuals through his word.

13. It encourages house groups to suggest areas/issues/topics/books that they would like or feel the church needs to explore and enter into a dialogue over how the church can grow to maturity. Creating a two way dialogue, accountability and responsibility for our Christian maturity.

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