Experience the Risen Christâ€™s Presence and Power
Yes, dear seeker, Jesus your Savior is here beside you! Let Godâ€™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 Christâ€™ presence and not merely learn truths about Him. He promised, â€œWhere two or three gather in My name, I am there with themâ€ (Matt. 18:18-20).
Paul urged all believers in small groups to â€œprophesyâ€ by edifying, exhorting and consoling (1 Cor. 14:3). He told how these three elements of New Testament prophesy make folk aware of Jesusâ€™ presence (14:24-26):
â€œIf 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 aÂ conventional, Western, rational approach such as the Roman Road (â€œAll have sinned, the wages of sin is death, Jesus died in our place, so accept His sacrifice and be saved,â€ etc.). Rather, the apostles simply related the historical events of Jesusâ€™ death and resurrection, healed in His name, and called seekers to repent. They did not discuss with seekers aboutÂ theological implications of the atonement ; that wouldÂ come later. The Letter to theÂ 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 seekersâ€™ gatherings, let friends give testimonials of recent conversion, healing, and freedom from vices and spiritual oppression.
Let a seeker or new believer, a â€œperson of peaceâ€, host a gathering and invite only those whom he knows shouldÂ come. Follow the examples of Lydia, Cornelius, the jailer in Philippi and Levi.
Let there be laughter and tears. Provide food, games and sportsÂ suitable to attenders’Â age and interests.
Do not panic if seekers use profanity, sipÂ booze or engage in other worldly things. Such gatherings areÂ neither for believers nor for worship. Let these gatherings happen whereÂ sinnersÂ feel at home,Â as Jesus did. Paul said to be â€œin the world but not of it.â€
Deal with urgent needs through both prayer and compassionate action.
Resources For While You â€¦
Call on Jesus to heal and toÂ forgive. Enact the contrast between Jesus and and Pharisees.Â Jesus saved a sinner in response to his friendsâ€™ faith, Â whilst PhariseesÂ resented such unmerited grace:
Help others follow inÂ the fishermanâ€™s footprints. Present the Master as Peter did:
Dine in the Upper Room. Help worshippers sense Jesusâ€™ powerful Presence in Communion, by presentingÂ this brief dramatization of Jesusâ€™ startling discourse:
Dance with David. Balance passion with prudence. Discern the place of emotion in worship:
Remove your shoes before the flaming bush. Help believers show reverence and respect in Godâ€™s awesome Presence (two documents, both scripted to reenact)
Flee from Pharaoh. Relive the thrill of the original Passover and its liberation from death and slavery, by presenting this brief, touching reenactment:
Retrace Jesusâ€™ final steps in Jerusalem. Portray Jesusâ€™ saving work by presentingÂ these vivid reenactments of His trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection:
Take those first timid steps into Godâ€™s Presence. Let newly-baptized believers begin at once to worship seriously as a body.
Wonder where to begin. These guidelines make start-up meetings easy for a home group:
Assure folk of Jesusâ€™ power over death. Relive stirring events from the town of Bethany:
Proclaim Jesusâ€™ ascension into Glory. Share the disciplesâ€™ awe as they watched the risen Christ rise from earth and disappear in a cloud on His return to glory:
Open the Bible for New Believers. Help learners visualize foundational historical events that depict vital truths and evoke lively discussion:
Penetrate deathâ€™s mystery. This conversation between serious thinkers in the presence of death can open new vistas. Free yourself from superficial, popularÂ theology:
Trust the Lord to provide (a reenactment):
Call on the power of Christâ€™s name to heal (scripted to reenact):
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, â€œshake the dustâ€ 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 Christâ€™s presence (1 Cor. 10:17-17).
Witness for Jesus by logically explaining His atonement.
Westerners sometimes justify intellectual approaches by citing Paulâ€™s discourse to learned Athenians (Acts 17). However, Paulâ€™s brief comparison of their many gods to the One true God, which he used as an introduction to recount Jesusâ€™ 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 Jesusâ€™ substitutionary atonement â€œsolid foodâ€ for mature believers. However, some rationalisticÂ theologians insist that seekers swallow that solid food to be saved. Such a rational approach yields meager results.
â€œVictimsâ€ in chronic crisis take up a groupâ€™s time, diverting attention from Christ.
GivingÂ mentally ubhealthyÂ 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, byÂ exaggerating theirÂ needs and manipulating othersâ€™ conscience. Such deceit easily dampens a groupâ€™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.