Tag Archives: Bible study

Growth groups (and why we need them)

Good morning and welcome to St Augustine’s! We are always glad to have visitors amongst us, and those who may be considering joining us regularly. Please let me know if I can be helpful in any way or provide you with any information.

Growth groups. What are they? What do they have to do with church? And should I join one?

What are they? Well, even though our congregation is small, it is also enormous. Far too big to be a place of deep, open and honest conversation. Of course, our goal is that the content of our services will be deep, open and honest! And yet to grow in our dependence on Jesus, and to deepen our knowledge and love of God, we need each other in a more intimate setting than a public worship service. Growth groups are there to help us to grow, as we build relationships of trust and openness with one another.

What do they have to do with church? Well put simply, our church (like any church) needs to grow. Of course, we want to grow numerically: all of us would love to see vibrant Sunday gatherings, full of new people exploring the things of God. But just as the growth of a garden requires attention to each and every plant, so too does the growth of a church.

I don’t think our faith should be an add-on to our lives, like a membership of an association or a hobby. Our faith is a core aspect of who we are as persons. Faith in God is only one of many “faiths” that we have in life. And I’m not talking about other religions! We put faith in the brakes and steering systems of our car when we are on the road. If we didn’t trust them, we wouldn’t get behind the wheel. We put faith in builders who put 20 tonne rooves over our heads, in doctors who prescribe chemicals for us to ingest or inject, even in chairs we slump our weight into. We put faith into more things each day than we care to consider.

The big question is: what does it look like for us to put our faith in God? Do I trust in the things or people he has created more than I trust in the One who created them? Well yes, often I do. And this usually doesn’t become apparent unless I have open, focused conversations about these very things.

Should I join a growth group? Another way of putting the question is, do I need to grow? Growth is intrinsic to life. No growth and we shrivel. Are you open to the idea of building relationships, studying God’s word, and reflecting with each other on what it means for our lives? And to committing the details of your life to him in prayer with others?

I’d love to encourage everyone to think carefully about whether you might join one. Would you consider it? No matter what our stage in life, I know that God will bless us if we humbly seek to grow in our knowledge and love of him.

Sermons are not enough

Good morning and welcome to St Augustine’s church. We are a community of people convinced of the love that God has expressed to us and seeking to share that love with those around us. Whether you’re newish or visiting us, or whether you’ve been part of this group for many years, we hope you feel that you can belong here, develop friendships and connections, strike up conversations, and even ask for help if you need it.

Last Sunday we had a real reminder of our Christian unity through the brunch we shared after the service. It was a very encouraging time, with lots of laughing, conversation, and of course food. We found ourselves looking around and being comforted that we are looking at better times. We look forward to seeing what God has in store for us as a community of faith. We trust he will grow us, not only in numbers, but also in spiritual maturity, as we seek his Spirit’s work in us and through us.

As you have probably worked out by now, I am a strong believer that the word of God, the Bible, is central to our lives as Christians. It is God’s own expression of himself to us, and so really is “a lamp for our feet” as Psalm 119:105 says.

The word of God is not our goal, but it is our way to our goal. And that goal of course is life lived in the strength and wisdom of God, and then ultimately life lived in the eternal presence of God. Studying the word of God therefore should be something to which we apply ourselves.

And yet sermons are not enough. Sermons encourage us, teach us, challenge us, and sometimes even rebuke us. And yet we regularly have questions of the text that we are not able to answer and the preacher is not able to anticipate.

And so for this reason, I’d like warmly to invite you all to participate in our Lenten Bible studies. For those unfamiliar with church language, that just means that it will be a series of studies occurring during the season of Lent, which is the 6 weeks leading up to Easter. In these studies, we’ll follow the journey of Christ to the cross and ask what implications this has for our lives as his followers.

I’d love it if you would all join in. There will be 2 options (10am and 7:30pm – meet in the church). Please sign up for a group on the list at the back of the church, even if you will not be able to make every session.

I look forward to growing together in our fellowship in Jesus.

Cheers, Mark