The vision statement of Landstown Community Church is “To experience church like we read about in the New Testament.” This has been the vision statement of the Cornerstone networks since the beginning of Cornerstone Church in 1986.
Landstown’s mission statement is: “Love God! Love people! Make disciples!” This is a combination statement taken from Jesus’ Greatest Commandment, the second that is like it, and the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20.
In the New Testament there are at least twenty-five “one another” statements. These are things that Jesus and the apostles Paul, James, Peter, and John, as well as the writer of the book of Hebrews, said that believers are to be doing for each other.
It is impossible for a church that only meets on Sunday morning to fulfill these one another statements. In Acts 2:42, there are four things that Luke says that the church did continually; and in verse 46 Luke says that they did these things daily as they met in the temple courts and from house to house. I believe that it is necessary for us to meet together during the week in order to fulfill what God requires of us. As a result of these daily get-togethers, “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
Of course, just meeting for the sake of meeting won’t accomplish what needs to take place. Meeting in order to do “the work of the kingdom” also does not enable us to fulfill our duties to each other. An “us four and no more” meeting where we withdraw from the world and navel gaze won’t get the job done either. It’s also impractical to say we’re going to meet like they did in the New Testament because we don’t really know very much how they conducted those early house to house meetings.
I would like to propose a different approach. Using our mission statement as a guide, could we conduct our groups in such a way that we emphasize loving God through worship, loving people through our relationships, doing the one anothers, and making disciples through engaging with the world around us, both as individuals and as groups together?
Ralph Neighbour, Jr., among others, advocates the use of Four W’s in the conduct of a small group meeting. Every group meeting should begin with a Welcome (Icebreaker), Worship (Recognizing the Presence and Power of Christ in the group), Word (Ministering to each other through the working of spiritual gifts), and Works (Praying for unbelievers and planning outreach events).
Even though this enables us to function well in the body, I propose that we need not invent a four-part meeting format. Acts 2:42 already gives us four things that the New Testament church did together. In any small group meeting, we need to share something from the Scriptures (Apostles’ Doctrine), share with each other what is happening in our lives and encourage and minister to each other the one anothers (Fellowship), share together in worship experiences including observing the Lord’s Supper and/or refreshments (the Breaking of Bread), and Prayers for each other as well as our unbelieving friends.
Our goal is that every regular participant in the Landstown Church ministry would be involved in a small group experience outside of the Sunday morning Celebration service. Contact the church office if we can assist you to get involved in small group ministry.