Wood Lane Baptist Church
Psalm 43:3

House Groups

Introduction

House Groups are an integral part of the ongoing life of Wood Lane Baptist church and provide the opportunity to strengthen your Christian faith and develop friendships with other members of our church family. House Groups meet weekly, usually on a Monday and Wednesday evenings. However, is joining a House Group really going to make much of a difference in the lives of its members? Does the House Group have a clear purpose, or does it just exist because it has always existed? Will you go along because that's what you're expected to do? More to the point, what part are you going to play in your House Group and what can you do to make your House Group a success?

Why go in the first place?

People go to House Groups for all sorts of reasons: to make friends; to pursue romantic possibilities; to receive encouragement and counsel; to learn more about being a Christian; and so on. While most of these might be perfectly acceptable reasons to joining a House Group, the first and most important reason must be clear in our minds: Our primary reason for belonging to a House Group is to give us an opportunity to love and encourage other people in Jesus. It's not about ME; it's about THEM. And it's about them BECAUSE OF JESUS.

This, after all, is what the Christian life is about. Our most basic principle is to love other people as Jesus has loved us, to lay down our lives for them as Jesus did for us. This applies as much to House Groups as it does to marriages, families, workplaces, and Church or Christian meetings. We go to House Groups not primarily to have our needs met, but to meet the needs of others.

Of course, we have needs too, and no doubt they will be met along the way — but we can let others worry about that. In fact, the truth is, the more we focus on loving others, and doing whatever we can for them, the more encouragement and strength we find ourselves. There are many ways that we can love and encourage the other people in your House Group, here are five "powerful" reasons:

1. The Power of Presence.

This is the simplest and most obvious, but is no less powerful for being so. Just being there each time you meet, is a powerful encouragement to the other members of the House Group. In making a solid commitment to group time, to be missed only in times of emergency, you send a very clear message to the other members: "Being with you matters very much to me. Unless something very important comes up, you can expect me. Encouraging you is a top priority". Conversely, inconsistent attendance sends a somewhat less encouraging message: "I don't mind coming, but it's not that important. If I feel a bit tired or something else crops up, don't expect me. Being with you and encouraging you isn't really a very high priority for me." Turning up regularly requires no extraordinary gifts or talent, but it is a powerful way of loving other people.

2. The Power of Preparation

Most House Groups leaders complete their meeting with a plea for people to read the Bible passage in advance and prepare for the next study. The leader knows full well that most people won't but there's no harm in trying! There's no doubt that "doing some homework" by reading the passage, greatly increases the benefit you yourself receive from the meeting. More importantly, however, it equips you to encourage others by what you say. Rather the throwing in "whatever occurs to you at the time" you have actually thought about the Bible passage and the issues that it raises. This way you are much better prepared to say things that stimulate and encourage others if you have given it some thought beforehand.

3. The Power of Prayer

Paul's friend and fellow worker, Epaphras, would have made an ideal House Group member. According to Paul, he was always wrestling in prayer for the Colossians, that they might stand firm in all the will of God. Paul was able to say that in doing so, Epaphras was working hard for you (Colossians 4:12-13). Praying for other can be hard work, but also very satisfying. It is one of the most loving things we can do for our fellow House Group members (and also the wider fellowship), not only because it is through our prayers that God does His work in people's lives, but because it is such a quiet, inconspicuous form of ministry. Prayer has none of the rewards of a more "glamorous" or "Tangible" ministry. You do it for one reason only: that you care for that person and want what is best for them in Jesus.

4. The Power of Personality

The analogy may be starting to stretch out a little thin here, but the point is that a powerful way of loving others in your House Group is to be willing to share your own life and personality with them. This is by no means an easy thing to do. Many of us would much rather keep quiet and not give too much away. However, by being willing to make ourselves vulnerable and by opening up and sharing our lives and thoughts and struggles and joys, we do others a great service. Not only do we show them that we have the very same struggles that they have (but thought they were alone in suffering); we also encourage them to open up as well. Of course, it is anything but loving to indiscriminately dump everything we are thinking or feeling on to the group. We need to heed the advice of Proverbs and think carefully before we speak: as well as the words of Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

5. The Power of Pastoral Care

As a church, we will never be able to meet the pastoral needs of everyone, but through House Groups, we can ensure that most people's pastoral needs are catered for. Whatever you do in the House Group — every word you say, every action — do it for the sake of others. Look for how you can support and help the leader. Look for ways to care for the members of the House group (and those who are not members); those who could really do with a phone call or a visit; those who would benefit from someone praying, or reading the bible, with them; those who need practical, financial or material help; those who just need a friend to share a burger and a DVD.
And Finally...

I believe that if we fully grasp the possibilities, and potential, that House Groups have to offer, we will recognise that it presents us with an enormously fruitful opportunity for the building up our Church family in developing meaningful relationships; in establishing effective pastoral care; enabling us to grow in our faith and to help us to continue to be a Christian community seeking to serve Jesus