Jesus is. He hasn't been invited lately. I know, I know. In my last blog post, I said there's no sense in inviting Jesus to your meetings, because he is already there:
"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20).That verse says that Jesus is already there, right? Your groups simply needs to welcome him into your presence. Oblige me while I disagree with myself.
Jesus conveyed a condition for his presence in your group:
- "in my name" (NIV)
- "because they are mine" (NLT)
- "because of me" (The Message)
I'll state this as directly as I can: If your group is coming together in any other name than Jesus', if you are gathering because you belong to anything or anyone else, if you are meeting for any other purpose than Jesus', he has not promised to show up.
"in my name"
Groups gather in the name of lots of things: connecting unconnected people, developing Christian friendships, Bible study, study of a certain topic, and so forth. These are not necessarily bad things, but they are not the main thing (see Matthew 6:33). There is a huge difference between healthy groups that meet in Jesus' name and for his purposes and then do a variety of things as he directs ... and groups who meet in the name of all kinds of other things and wait for Jesus to empower their own stuff. Is your group gathering in Jesus' name?
"because they are mine"
Who does your group belong to? The senior pastor? The church leadership? The small groups minister? A groups coach? Your small group leader? A strong or very needy group member? Two important kingdom principles come into play here: authority and stewardship. Jesus has ultimate authority over your group (Matthew 28:18). He is the real leader and shepherd of the group. He then gives temporary authority to church and group leaders as an act of stewardship. Regardless, Jesus is always transcendent. Does your group meet together because you are his?
"because of me"
Some groups start meeting because of a church campaign. Some begin because of a felt need. Others launch because there is a group of people with similar interests who are already friends or live in the same neighborhood or work in the same company or because of a host of other affinities. And God can use all these to build a Christ-centered community. It's vital that group members remember that the group exists not because of any of these other reasons, however. It takes a godly leader to lead the group to come together because of Jesus.
How does your group invite Jesus to your meeting? It's simple: meet in his name, because you are his, because of him!
If you lead a group, one of your main jobs is to keep reminding the group why you meet. It may sound simplistic, but it really is simple. You meet because of Jesus. That changes everything!