Early in the Methodist movement, to be a Methodist really did not have much to do with worship attendance and had everything to do with being in a class meeting and band group. The Wesley’s understood the importance of small groups when it comes to scriptural holiness. I believe this is a distinction that makes the Methodist church important—when we are at our best; we are emphasizing the work of God’s grace to transform the individual more and more each day. I often tell people that I probably gave my life to Christ once or twice a year for 10 years at church camp altar calls. I am a sucker for the religious emotional high of powerful encounters with God…I don’t think that is a problem, and yet my life has truly been shaped and formed and in steady dosage of vulnerability and accountability in small groups of people I trust. Check out what Paul says to the Philippians:
“I thank God every time I remember you. In all of my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6
Paul, writing from prison to this young gathering of Christians, has confidence that God will bring the good work begun in them towards completion. What is he talking about? Well I believe he talking about sanctification, the work of God’s grace to transform us to be more like Christ. In other words, going on to personal holiness and social holiness—love of God, love of neighbor. Why does he have this confidence? Well in this scripture he is confident because of their partnership (koinonia) together. It is in their gathering together, challenging each other, praying for one another, and sacrificing for the group that God continues to build them up.
I want to challenge you to consider your partnership. Do you have a small group of people that know you deeply? Do you have people that you can share your struggles, pain, joy, celebrations, and triumphs?