Experience the Risen Christ’s Presence and Power
Yes, dear seeker, Jesus your Savior is here beside you! Let God’s Spirit open your eyes of faith to receive Him into your heart.
Yes, Lord, we sense your joyful Presence. Help us lift you up for all to see. Free us from powerless teaching that leads to hearing without doing, learning without communing with You.
Let everyone experience Christ’ presence and not merely learn truths about Him. He promised, “Where two or three gather in My name, I am there with them” (Matt. 18:18-20).
Paul urged all believers in small groups to “prophesy” by edifying, exhorting and consoling (1 Cor. 14:3). He told how these three elements of New Testament prophesy make folk aware of Jesus’ presence (14:24-26):
“If all prophesy and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. What is the outcome then, brothers? When you gather, each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”
Let people meet the living Christ by witnessing for Him as the apostles did. They did not follow a conventional, Western, rational approach such as the Roman Road (“All have sinned, the wages of sin is death, Jesus died in our place, so accept His sacrifice and be saved,” etc.). Rather, the apostles simply related the historical events of Jesus’ death and resurrection, healed in His name, and called seekers to repent. They did not discuss with seekers about theological implications of the atonement ; that would come later. The Letter to the Romans, with its rational road to salvation, was written to believers already baptized, under pastoral care, to teach how to get victory over sin.
In seekers’ gatherings, let friends give testimonials of recent conversion, healing, and freedom from vices and spiritual oppression.
Let a seeker or new believer, a “person of peace”, host a gathering and invite only those whom he knows should come. Follow the examples of Lydia, Cornelius, the jailer in Philippi and Levi.
Let there be laughter and tears. Provide food, games and sports suitable to attenders’ age and interests.
Do not panic if seekers use profanity, sip booze or engage in other worldly things. Such gatherings are neither for believers nor for worship. Let these gatherings happen where sinners feel at home, as Jesus did. Paul said to be “in the world but not of it.”
Deal with urgent needs through both prayer and compassionate action.
Resources For While You …
Call on Jesus to heal and to forgive. Enact the contrast between Jesus and and Pharisees. Jesus saved a sinner in response to his friends’ faith, whilst Pharisees resented such unmerited grace:
Jesus healed and forgave a paralytic
Help others follow in the fisherman’s footprints. Present the Master as Peter did:
Tell the Good News the way the apostles did
Dine in the Upper Room. Help worshippers sense Jesus’ powerful Presence in Communion, by presenting this brief dramatization of Jesus’ startling discourse:
Jesus said to eat His flesh and live forever
Dance with David. Balance passion with prudence. Discern the place of emotion in worship:
Experience Jesus’ presence and power in meetings
Remove your shoes before the flaming bush. Help believers show reverence and respect in God’s awesome Presence (two documents, both scripted to reenact)
Jesus drove merchants from God’s temple
Flee from Pharaoh. Relive the thrill of the original Passover and its liberation from death and slavery, by presenting this brief, touching reenactment:
Retrace Jesus’ final steps in Jerusalem. Portray Jesus’ saving work by presenting these vivid reenactments of His trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection:
Take those first timid steps into God’s Presence. Let newly-baptized believers begin at once to worship seriously as a body.
Guidelines for dynamic small group worship
Wonder where to begin. These guidelines make start-up meetings easy for a home group:
What to do in startup meetings
Assure folk of Jesus’ power over death. Relive stirring events from the town of Bethany:
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead
Proclaim Jesus’ ascension into Glory. Share the disciples’ awe as they watched the risen Christ rise from earth and disappear in a cloud on His return to glory:
Jesus ascended to Glory as His disciples watched
Open the Bible for New Believers. Help learners visualize foundational historical events that depict vital truths and evoke lively discussion:
Facts of life & death for new believers & seekers
Penetrate death’s mystery. This conversation between serious thinkers in the presence of death can open new vistas. Free yourself from superficial, popular theology:
Assure those who have serious thoughts about death
Trust the Lord to provide (a reenactment):
God feeds His people in the Sinai desert, scripted
Call on the power of Christ’s name to heal (scripted to reenact):
Peter and John jailed for healing in Jesus’ name
Common Traps To Avoid
Let folk meet Jesus, baptize them and teach them to obey His commands before delving into detailed doctrine. They will grasp the deeper truths quicker, in proper context. The apostles started by teaching obedience to Jesus, and let new believers learn key doctrines once they were obeying.
Waste time with those who do not want to meet Jesus.
As Jesus said, “shake the dust” from your feet when people fail to respond to Him. In many cases, shaking the dust requires focusing on another, poorer social venue.
Turn Communion into a teaching occasion, or over-emphase its symbolism.
Let the ceremony itself impart to people the reality of Christ’s presence (1 Cor. 10:17-17).
Witness for Jesus by logically explaining His atonement.
Westerners sometimes justify intellectual approaches by citing Paul’s discourse to learned Athenians (Acts 17). However, Paul’s brief comparison of their many gods to the One true God, which he used as an introduction to recount Jesus’ resurrection, remains light-years away from being a philosophical approach to the gospel.
The apostles always related in some way how Jesus did much good, was put to death and rose back to life. They explained the theological implications of His atonement, later. Hebrews 5 calls Jesus’ substitutionary atonement “solid food” for mature believers. However, some rationalistic theologians insist that seekers swallow that solid food to be saved. Such a rational approach yields meager results.
“Victims” in chronic crisis take up a group’s time, diverting attention from Christ.
Giving mentally ubhealthy folk too much attention kills small groups. Such persons wander from church to church, leaving in their wake frustrated shepherds and scattered sheep.
The greedy pose as devout Christians.
Skilled, smooth-talking parasites infiltrate groups to coax money out of compassionate believers, by exaggerating their needs and manipulating others’ conscience. Such deceit easily dampens a group’s zeal by diverting its focus from Christ. Keep your antenna up!
Confuse new believers about where their church home is.
Taking new believers to gatherings that will not be their permanent church can confuse them. Let them first bond with the group that they will meet with as their primary church. New believers will strongly bond with their own group, if you baptize them in its own place with group members present, rather than in some other larger assembly or its baptismal pool.