The Sunday morning gathering is our weekly worship of God as a gathered church when we proclaim the gospel through biblical exposition, singing, giving, and prayer. This is an essential, non-negotiable part of what we do as a biblically obedient church. But we believe the single weekly gathering of the church on the Lord’s Day is not in itself sufficient for us to be biblically obedient to all the Scriptures teach about discipleship. Why do we have city groups? We’re glad you asked!
A triune God made us as creatures of relationship.
God is triune in his nature and he perfectly enjoys relationship within the persons of the Godhead. People are made in God’s image and are likewise designed by God to enjoy relationship. As we look at the Genesis account we see the relationship Adam and Eve enjoyed with their Creator and the catastrophic loss when sin marred that relationship. People are made to relate to God and others. We believe City Groups are one way to help promote healthy relationships between Christians in the local church. Our busy American lives so easily push out meaningful Christian relationship. City Groups are a deliberate interruption to our busy lives so that we put into our schedule a necessary component for what we believe is essential for Christian health – biblically centered, Christian fellowship.
Love for God’s family is the hallmark evidence of being part of God’s family.
Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”” (John 13:35). Certainly love for other believers is expressed between Christians when they gather on Sunday. However it seems obvious that Christians cannot isolate the command to love one another to a two hour block of time on a Sunday morning. We believe a weekly small group time nurtures and provides additional occasion where Christians can live out love for one another.
Great Commission effectiveness is encouraged and enabled.
Jesus gave his church a great commission (Matthew 28:19-20). How does the church live out faith-filled obedience to the great commission? That happens in part as the church supports and promotes the weekly proclamation of the gospel through faithful biblical exposition of the Scriptures. Yet the great commission requires courageous obedience from individual Christians in their specific walks of life. We believe City Groups is one way for Christians to encourage each other to be busy about God’s mission work in the world. The small group is able to pray about the opportunities God presents in one another’s lives. As an extension of the individual Christian’s responsibility to participate in fulfilling the Great Commission, the City Group can creatively work together to do great commission work in their shared neighborhoods and communities.
The Scripture’s one-another passages require more than a Sunday morning crowd.
Paul wrote, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12–13). When do Christians put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience toward one another? When are Christians able to bear with one another? Obedience to these commands can be accomplished in some measure when the church is gathered on Sunday morning. However, these kinds of Christian virtues aren’t primarily expressed in a crowd. We believe City Groups offer a setting where Christian relationships can grow to a depth where these activities are present and part of our rhythm of life together. Typically people are not meaningfully discipled in a large group. You can teach and give instruction to a large group, but the individuals in the crowd must work out and live in obedience to that teaching in a more private setting. We believe City Groups offer a wonderful place for this kind of discipleship to begin taking place. We believe City Group is a great venue for one-on-one discipleship relationships to be discovered, formed, and nurtured.
Some concluding words:
We do not believe the Holy Scriptures require every church to do City Groups or that a church must do them like we do. Rural or small town settings might not need the same kind of focused help as us city-dwellers. However, in our busy 21st Century American setting we have found it helpful to schedule a deliberate, intentional occasion that offers opportunity to do good work of love to our Christian family. Furthermore, if your discipleship is isolated to a 2 hour block of time on Sunday and a 2 hour block of time during a mid-week group you are missing meaning of biblical discipleship. City groups are not intended to be an event but to nurture and foster a lifestyle of discipleship. God has high and good expectations on his children to live out their new life in Christ. As we obey, God receives fame and glory, and the worship of King Jesus increases. City Groups is one way we aim to obey our King.
Currently we have three city groups that gather weekly:
- Land O’ Lakes: Wednesdays at 6:30pm
- Wesley Chapel: Wednesdays at 6:30pm
- Tampa Heights: Thursdays at 6:30pm