Waynedale United Methodist Church
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Aug 21, 2016 Sermon

“Connecting to Community: Making Disciples of Jesus”
John 13:33 – 35
Ted Jansen August 21, 2016  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        What are the different things you can do with your hands?  (Name some of them.) 
            As we continue to focus vision in our church I want you to consider the image of two hands with the statement; Connecting to Christ and the Community. 
            Connecting to Christ is symbolized with Christ’s hand reaching out to your hand and holding us with His love and grace. 
            Connecting to Community is symbolized with your hand reaching out and connecting to the hands of others. The word “community” can mean the hands of other disciples and the hands of other people with need.  Community is people we know and people we don’t know, yet. 
            I want to first focus on the hands of other disciples and our relationships.  Next week I will focus on how we reach out with our hands to the needs and lives of others.    
 
2.)        John 13 describes Jesus and the disciples in the Upper Room.  Jesus chooses to wash the feet of His disciples in this setting that must have been a very humbling experience for both Jesus and the disciples.
Jesus, after the foot washing, does some teaching.  John tells us that Jesus is troubled as He lets His disciples know that He will be betrayed that night. 
After Judas, the betrayer, leaves Jesus speaks that God will bring glory to Himself through the Son.  All of this action leads to Jesus words that I want to focus on.  These words show us the importance of connecting to community.        
 
3.)        John 13:34 – 35 records Jesus saying, “A new command I give you; Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples.  If you love one another.” 
            Those words are powerful when we consider how Jesus demonstrated His love by the washing of their feet.  Let’s discover some meaning with these words Jesus spoke.    
 
4.)        The word, “new,” has a meaning of “better,” or of the “best.”  When Jesus is talking they might have been thinking of the many commandments that are important.  He is saying to them all that this is the most important one, the best, the better one.    
            The word, “commandment,” has a meaning of a King or ruler who demands an action be carried out.  Command carries with it the authority of the leader and the words that must be acted on.  It is like an authority that demands action.    
            As we contrast this understanding with Jesus, the King and Ruler, who had just washed the feet of the disciples we realize this is not a demand.  The command was fulfilled and demonstrated by Jesus.  We simply do what Jesus did.      
            The word, “commandment,” has a strong link to the person who spoke the command.  When a command comes, it is from a person and must be understand in relationship to that person.  This command comes from Jesus and our relationship with Him.    
 
5.)        The word, “love” in the Greek, is agape.  This means an unconditional giving of self and action for another.  It is a love that gives and gives and gives and doesn’t expect anything in return.  This is impossible in human understanding but with Jesus in our lives we can do this better.      
            The word disciple, “mathetes,” is also strongly connected to a person.  Here is a quote from the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (page 559)
            “In each usage we find attachment to a person.  Jesus as the head of the group is expected to give the ruling…The destiny of the disciples is bound up with his.”
            I also read in the Theological Dictionary that a disciple, a mathetes, has a Commitment to Jesus, an Obedience to Jesus, and Obligation to Suffering for Jesus. 
            If you are a disciple of Jesus you have a link to Jesus.  The commitment is not to teachings, values, or living a certain way.  It is personal to Jesus and His life.  You are obedient to Him, personally and not in a generalized way.    
            When we are connected to Christ and we love one another, as fellow disciples, Jesus said that all people will know you are my disciples.    
            We seek to connect people to one another as disciples in faith and love. 
             
6.)        I need four people this morning to help me with an illustration.  (Have people line up shoulder to shoulder in a row.)   I am going to give each of you four messages that you have to speak and act out.  The first time you have to stay shoulder to shoulder and you cannot move to the side.  You can only reach forward.     
            Here are the four things I want you to share with emphasis.  “Good Morning.  I lost my job.  I just graduated.  Good bye.”   (Have the group share while in a row.)  
            Let’s share those same four things in a circle and you can respond however you feel comfortable.  (Have the group share while in a circle.) 
            I wanted you to see and experience this to show how loving one another works best.  
 
7.)        Andy Stanley is a pastor at Northpoint Church in Atlanta, Georgia.  He gave a message on the importance of small groups.  He said, “Circles are better than rows.”   He described the Christian life and how it best works in face to face living.
            That is what I wanted to demonstrate to you with the illustration. 
               
8.)        John Wesley had his heart “strangely warmed” at his conversion.  He trusted Christ and Christ alone for his salvation.  John, led by the Holy Spirit, had a fire in his heart to reach as many people with the love of Christ.  John started to create circles for people; small groups.   
            John Wesley organized new Christians into classes where they could grow in faith and in love for one another.  I want to share some instructions that John Wesley gave about the groups that were being formed.  They were called classes, bands, societies.        
                       
9.)        John Wesley’s Rules for the Band-Societies (drawn up Dec. 25, 1738)
The design of our meeting is, to obey that command of God, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed."
To this end, we intend,-
1. To meet once a week, at the least.
2. To come punctually at the hour appointed, without some extraordinary reason.
3. To begin (those of us who are present) exactly at the hour, with singing or prayer.
4. To speak each of us in order, freely and plainly, the true state of our souls, with the faults we have committed in thought, word, or deed, and the temptations we have felt, since our last meeting.
5. To end every meeting with prayer, suited to the state of each person present.
6. To desire some person among us; to speak his own state first, and then to ask the rest, in order, as many and as searching questions as may be, concerning their state, sins, and temptations.
            That is very intentional.  There were questions that the groups were to ask each week to help one another grow in love towards God and each other.   Here are a few of the questions. 
 
1. Have you the forgiveness of your sins?
2. Have you peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ?
3. Have you the witness of God's Spirit with your spirit, that you are a child of God?
4. Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart?
5. Has no sin, inward or outward, dominion over you?
6. Do you desire to be told your faults?
7. Do you desire that every one of us should tell you, from time to time, whatsoever is in his heart concerning you?
 
10.)      I explored the topic of small group questions on the internet and found some current small group questions that are similar to the questions that John Wesley started.     
 
            Here are some of Chuck Swindoll’s Pastoral Accountability Questions
1. Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?
2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?
4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?
5. Have you given priority time to your family?
6. Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?
7. Have you just lied to me?
 
            Here are some questions from Neil Cole. 
1. What is the condition of your soul?
2. What sin do you need to confess?
3. What have you held back from God that you need to surrender?
4. Is there anything that has dampened your zeal for Christ?
5. Who have you talked with about Christ this week?
 
            Here are some questions that Ed Stetzer shared in his blog.  
1. Have you been a testimony to the greatness of Jesus Christ with your words and actions?
2. Have you been exposed to sexually alluring material or allowed your mind to entertain inappropriate thoughts about someone who is not your spouse this week?
3. Have you lacked any integrity in your financial dealings this week, or coveted something?
4. Have you been honoring, understanding and generous in your important relationships?
5. Have you damaged another person by your words, either behind their back or face-to-face?
6. Have you given in to an addictive behavior this week? Explain.
7. Have you continued to remain angry toward another?
8. Did you finish your reading and hear from the Lord? What are you going to do about it?
9. Have you been completely honest with me?
 
            When we do life in a circle we can fulfill Jesus’s command to love one another.   
 
11.)      If you are wanting to get into a group I want us to do our best to connect you to community. We currently have a children’s SS class and three adult classes each Sunday morning.  We have a Bible Study group on Wed morning and two women’s groups that will be forming soon. 
            I believe that a few people here are needed to help get a group started.  Would you be willing to help get a Men’s group, a couple’s group, a young adult group started?  If 2 – 4 people had a desire we can start groups.  A group is three or more sharing life and faith together. 
 
12.)      I want to read four reasons that Ed Stetzer wrote in March 2015 about why small groups are essential.  I invite you to think about your need, either for a small group, or your need to help get a new group started.     
 
Personal Discovery
First, personal discovery happens in small groups better than large groups for a number of reasons. You can learn, ask questions, involve yourself in the lives of others, and generally make yourself vulnerable among other people who are doing the same in small groups.
You just can’t do that in sermons. There is no conversation, no feedback, and no questions. There’s no room to challenge the preacher or even question any part of what’s being taught.
Spiritual growth happens better with others, in community, with open lines of communication and freedom to speak into one another’s lives.
 
Smaller Communities Are More Effective
Second and closely related to the first, smaller communities act more like, well, communities. That may seem like a given, but the bigger the group is, the less like community it feels.
The kind of community I am advocating requires a level of intimacy easily lost as numbers grow.  You simply cannot know everyone beyond a certain point, and you certainly will not open up about your struggles and sins in a large group of people you don’t know.
 
Deeper Friendships
With that in mind, the third factor is that small groups deliver deeper friendships that double as accountability. When people know you, really know you, your life becomes far more transparent, including your sin.  Others learn to read you and will call you out for those sins, creating opportunities to deal with real life difficulties as they surface. This is part of what we should expect from good friends.
 
Maximum Participation
Finally, small groups deliver maximum participation. There are opportunities to discuss the issues with others in the church. Church life issues can be discussed openly among trusted friends.  Mission can be planned out and participated in together. Lives are sharpened and leaders developed.
Small groups are an absolute necessity for involving as many people as possible in the life and ministry of your church.
 
13.)      “A new command I give you; Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples.  If you love one another.”  (John 13:34, 35)
 
            Our Vision at Waynedale Church is to connect to community.  We need to reach out our hand to others as we share life together.  We all need to be connected to one another in Community.