We were very blessed to have our good friend Julian Adams in Derby this weekend just gone. Julian is a gifted prophet and a great gift to the church. The Heaven touches Earth conference we held on Saturday was attended by around 230 people from across Derby and the wider area. I will post a more detailed review of this later in the week I hope.
Julian also joined us on Sunday morning at Jubilee. He felt he should speak about extravagant worship. Personally, I was both really encouraged and very challenged by this.
I was encouraged because I love enthusiastic worship. Public worship is indeed an overflow of our personal life with God and I love to be in a corporate setting where worship is enthusiastic and passionate.
I was challenged because of a comment he made which was, “Isn’t it funny how extravagant worship of others produces a judgmental spirit in us…?” I have certainly been guilty of this myself, sometimes being irritated by a passionate noisy worshipper in a meeting! When this happens, it reveals the true condition of my heart – not as in love with Jesus as I would want to be. There is a challenge here not to judge others but rather to look at my own relationship with God. (A story about not judging the speck in another’s eyes when there’s a log in your own comes to mind!)
As with all prophetic ministry, what Julian brought needs to be weighed. In fact, that is true not only of prophetic ministry but biblical teaching also. I would be the first one to encourage people to read scripture for themselves and compare what is being taught in church on a Sunday to what the Bible says. We need to be both feeding people with truth and teaching them how to feed themselves with truth.
This Sunday at Jubilee I will follow on from what Julian brought. We will look at what it means to weigh prophecy and how you do that in a God-honouring way. We will consider how all of us can grow in the prophetic, and we will look at the fundamental issue of receiving or being baptised in the Holy Spirit. I do hope you can join us!
One Biblical principle that seems to appear time and again in scripture, is the idea that healthy things grow. God has made it that way and it’s true of plants, animals, humans, and churches. I believe it’s also true of small groups. However, as small groups grow, they’re become larger, and not very small! When this happens, the group needs to multiply.
Some people talk of a group splitting, but I still remember Simon Pettit teaching on small group multiplication some years ago and saying (quite loudly), “‘split’, bad word… ‘multiply’, good word!”. This is partly because the word ‘split’ can have quite negative connotations. So multiply it is!
As a small group grows, it will need to multiply. This is a good thing, and should be done with great rejoicing and celebration. When a group multiplies, it is a testimony to the grace of God at work in that group and it means that this work can increase and reach more people. We should be aiming to multiply all our groups, and as we do so, we multiply leadership and multiply our effectiveness in the City.
LifeGroups are a great way of building community, discipling and reaching out. Let’s be asking God for strong, healthy groups that grow and multiply, and increase our capacity to reach our City for Christ.
This is the week we’re relaunching Jubilee LifeGroups across the City, and we had the first meeting of ours tonight. Maybe I’m biased, but I have to say, we’ve got a great group! Although not everybody could make it tonight, we still had a good turnout and already we’re praying for and working towards multiplying the group. Sarah and I certainly enjoyed the evening (particularly Naomi’s home made cakes) and look forward to meeting with this group over the coming weeks and seeing what God has for us together.
LifeGroups should be life-giving groups – both to those who are in them and those who are not yet. We need to make sure we keep reaching out, looking to love those who don’t know Jesus yet and serving our City. Let’s “do life together” and see what God does among us.
For the past few months in Jubilee, we haven’t been running our small groups. At the beginning of the year we felt it was right to shut them down and do some other things for a season. Whilst I am sure that was right, it has felt somewhat strange; it’s the first time in the history of Jubilee that we haven’t run small groups of one sort or another. So it was with great excitement and celebration that we re-launched LifeGroups yesterday morning. And then in the evening I met with our new group leaders. They really are an excellent group of people – passionate, loving and enthusiastic. I really couldn’t ask for more!
LifeGroups are an integral part of Jubilee. They are our structure for outreach and growth as well as for pastoral care and discipleship. And most importantly, they are our expression of community. You can never get to know everyone on a Sunday morning – we passed that stage a long time ago. However, as we grow larger on a Sunday, it’s important that we grow smaller as well – in relationships, in a small group context.
The small group is the perfect setting for community, discipleship and outreach. We all need a community to be part of, and LifeGroups give us that opportunity of living life together, and walking with others in the journey we call life. They are also a great place for encouraging one another to grow in God, and all He has for us. We can be honest, open and vulnerable in a small setting in a way that will help us grow as followers of Jesus. Small groups also give a natural way of reaching out to others, of serving a community or loving people who don’t know Jesus yet.
No small group is perfect, but that’s not a reason not to be part of one – it’s the reason you and I can be part of one! If you’re part of Jubilee, I want to encourage you to get stuck into a LifeGroup – make contact with the group leaders and give yourself to that group of people as you give yourself to Jesus and His church. The book of Acts tells us that the early church were devoted to one another – let’s go for that and see what God might do amongst us. Jesus is building His church – and it’s thrilling to be part of it.