At Freedom Church, we believe that Sunday services aren’t the whole story of what we are about as followers of Christ. We have small groups that we call Life Groups placed throughout the city in a prayerful hope that we will see the outworking of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God in every street!
It’s good to remind ourselves sometimes that Church is not just a Sunday service! The church is also all of these:
A family of believers expressing the presence of God through gathering together, a shared relationship and outreach to others.
A people of God, who share the same covenant through the blood of Jesus.
A community of believers expressing God’s heart to the nations.
A particular family of the people of God joined together for a purpose.
A community of believers sharing one faith in Jesus Christ.
A local community of God’s people in a relationship together as a corporate expression of the body, bride and army of God.
The people of God in an organic, covenanted relationship with God and one another with the aim of reproducing the Kingdom in the Earth.
A gathering of the saints.
This list is by no means exhaustive!
To gather together corporately in one place at an ordained time for the unashamed worship and praise of God is beautiful and remarkable! As God breaks into these times, and His presence is felt, there is nowhere else like it. We feel refreshed and closer to God than ever before and leave prepared to go out and ‘make disciples of all nations!’.
We go home after these times and carry on with life excited about what God is doing and is going to do. The next working / college / family day comes around, and as we take our excitement into this environment, people notice that we are different. We positively impact our colleagues, friends or family’s lives. But as the week wears on and work, and college and family life get busy we find that our jobs and studies eat into our free time and shorten our time with loved ones. Stresses quickly start to outwork themselves through our actions and thoughts. Before we know it, God has prioritised to the bottom of the list, and we don’t give Him much time. Reading the Word can become an after-thought. It’s almost like that full tank of the Holy Spirit has run dry, and now we’re running on empty. “If I can … just … make … it … to Sunday I’ll be re-filled and ready to go!”
Can you relate to this? Does it sound like you to some degree? Is your only weekly connection with God through one or two short hours on a Sunday? There’s got to be a way to live our lives more effectively for God, right?
Here are four short verses from the New Testament which may help us all to realise a more ‘filled with God’s presence’ lifestyle:
Acts 5:42 - And every day, in the Temple and their homes, they continued to teach and preach this message: “The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus.”
Acts 16:40 - Paul and Silas then returned to the home of Lydia, where they met with the believers and encouraged them once more before leaving town.
Romans 16:3-5 - Greet Priscilla and Aquila. They have been co-workers in my ministry for Christ Jesus. In fact, they risked their lives for me. I am not the only one who is thankful to them; so are all the Gentile churches. Please give my greetings to the church that meets in their home…
Colossians 4:15 - Please give my greetings to our Christian brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and those who meet in her house.
We need to see the Holy Spirit moving freely among us, where miracles are the norm, where the supernatural is part of the natural. If we want to see our nation changed for the better, we need the fire of the Holy Spirit catching hold in every street and every home! The way forward in this is not to continue in just the ‘same old, same old’ meetings every Sunday. These times together should be an opportunity for us to let loose and kick off our shoes. They are an opportunity to praise Jesus with all that we have, to prophesy corporately, but most of all to spark a fire that will draw others to its warmth throughout the week! A well-respected prophet of God, Sharon Stone, spoke a word over us as a church a few years ago:
“You will be a wild-fire (a corporate us) throughout this city (Leeds), excited, enthusiastic, eager to please God with strong emotions and zeal!”
To be that wild-fire throughout this city we need to do more than just meet in one place every Sunday. We need to meet in our homes, to gather together like-minded people around us so that we strengthen one another and so begin to make a more significant impact in the communities around us.
To this end, we have Freedom Church Life groups that meet in people's homes bi-weekly across the city. We call them Life Groups because this indicates that the groups gathering together are an intimate part of people’s lives; about friendship and time spent together, not just another meeting or Sunday-style gathering. We desire a real flowing together in honesty and caring which enables sharing of life’s downs as well as its ups. Our vision as a local church is that we are all: LOVED, EQUIPPED, EMPOWERED, DEVOTED, and SENT. We see the Life Groups as a vital way of outworking what we mean by these words.
However, neither small groups or Sunday gatherings can replace a personal life devoted to God. We also need to spend time with God alone to enjoy His presence, pray, meditate and read His Word. Combined with Sunday meetings and small groups, and our individual decision to give time to God will keep our ‘tanks’ filled to overflowing!