Sundays at 9:15 & 11:00 and Mondays at 6:30pm Click here for directions

building a community to reach a community

April 12, 2013

Saving Grace and Sanctifying Grace 

As I have been reviewing and presenting our recent survey results and learnings, one of the things that stands out is how strong our church is on the belief of saving grace. This belief is absolutely essential in becoming a Christian. However, there is a belief that is absolutely essential for growing as a Christian, sanctifying grace. Sanctification is the theological term for being liberated from the power of sin and thriving in the fruit of becoming like Christ. Sanctifying grace is essential to small group life. Here are some great insights by small group ministry expert Bill Donahue:

Some group environments communicate "Come in, kick off your shoes, and let's hang out for awhile" while others warn, "If you meet the conditions and prove yourself to be worthy, maybe we'll let you in. For some reason - whether fear, uncertainty, or the messiness of group life - we revert to rules and regulations, conformity and condemnation. It may be subtle - but it's there. Not cool. Actually, it's deadly.

What does it look like in a group? Grace speaks and receives truth without judgment. Grace brings resources to sinful and broken people, offering help and support. Grace creates safety that prompts healthy confession. Grace shouts, "I am broken, but I am loved!" When grace is in place, members of the group are "for" one another. New members feel welcomed and existing members willingly put personal agendas aside to accommodate the needs of others.

Here's a caution. You may fail in the attempt to move from fear to freedom. People will struggle wondering, "When do I bite my tongue, and when do I speak the hard truth? When are we going to confront Mike? Or do we allow him to experience the consequences of his action, and love him along the way? Is Sarah convinced that we really do love her? That we will never hurt her as others have done? Can we fight and still meet for dinner after a meeting? Do we know how to distinguish "it's bad" from "you're bad?" The answer to all of these questions is a resounding, "Ihave no clue." That's not how grace works - it's more art than a science.

Begin with the courage to name reality: "I see ... I hear ... I feel ..." And then respond - that's where grace is - in the response to shared reality and truth. Guard the messy moments when a heart opens up, when a confidence is shared, when a sin is confessed, when a dream is expressed, or when a wound is exposed. Do not be intimidated. Enter the sanctity of those moments with a holy fear and wondrous awe. Don't run - God is in the middle of that burning bush.

As a friend of mine said, "People don't want to join your strategy; they want to join your community." And they will - if grace is in place. If not, the fullness of life in Christ will never be realized, hopes and fears will never surface, and prodigals will never come fully home. Law always produces death. But when grace is in place, stand back. The sweeping wind of the Spirit is likely to blow, and it may knock you off your feet. And that is cool. Very, very cool.

Grace, Tim

Important Reminders

Leadership Community - April 15 - You will hear some important things from our two surveys about our small group ministry. Please RSVP to Donna today. 

Men's Breakfast of Champions - April 27 - Men, please encourage the men in your group to come with you to our breakfast on April 27,  8 am in Room 401.  Michael Marion, Executive Director at Rise Up!, will be our guest speaker.  Topic will be "Be a Man that Last."  Cost is $10 and you can sign up online or at the lobby table this Sunday.