“To Each Other"

Romans 12 9-13 


How are you going to find the significant people in your life?  Obviously you don’t have a choice in your parents and siblings but those other meaningful relationships?

Where will you find a partner in marriage, a trusted friend, a mentor, a confidant with whom you can share deep hurts and the joys of your life.

Those are significant relationships that will shape your life.  Those are the people who will influence you.  You will be the same person next year that you are now except for the people you meet and the information you assimilate into your brain.   

One of the most often ask questions that I receive is this:  Pastor how can I find a friend?  I’m lonely.  I don’t have any really deep friends – lots of acquaintances but few or no friends.

Think of some of the best moments of your life.  As you remember them, a smile comes to your lips, a sense of joy is in your heart.  My guess is that the vast majority of those experiences, if not all of them, were ones you shared with another person and not by yourself?   Why?

We have been created for loving relationships to live in connectedness to one another.  There are at least 13 “one another’s” in scripture. Love one another, submit, encourage, pray, forgive etc. We long for intimacy because we are made in the image of God who is a perfect illustration of connectedness as father, son, and holy spirit.  We need community.

In Romans 12: 9-13 Paul is talking to the church family – although these principles are applicable to individual families, he is talking to the extended family of God. 

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.(NIV)

he gives us some principles concerning connectivity:

vs. 9  love must be sincere – how do you do that?  By being continually connected to God.

Vs. 10 be devoted to one another  - connectedness to other Christians.

Vs. 11-13  our zeal – our spiritual fervor means we reach out and share with God’s people and those in need  service to others.

It takes time to connect to another person beyond superficial conversation.  It takes time to learn to trust – trust is hard to earn and easy to lose.  One betrayal of confidence beats five times you kept the secret.  

This longing to love and be loved is universal.  Crosses all social, spiritual, economic, and cultural boundaries. This longing to know that another individual is concerned about my well being, with what I do and who I am is universal.  From the first moment we lift our arms to be held by our mothers to the last moment when our loved one wipes our brow as the shadows of death creep over us, we have a longing to connect  - to know and be known. 

Alameda County Study headed by Harvard U. scientist – read results

Spiritually we have been called by God to live in community with one another as part of God’s family. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says:  “the more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in sin, the more disastrous is his isolation” 

God did his own survey – a survey on one and concluded that spiritual health is also affected by our relationships:

James 5:16 reminds us:  “confess your sins one to another and pray for each other that you may be healed.”  There is an emotional, physical, and spiritual healing magnetism in wholesome relationships.

Somehow our hurts are lessened and our victories are multiplied. 

What is our responsibility as a congregation?  We can’t make anyone be connected – force friendships but we can provide opportunities for that to transpire.  We call them connect groups. 

For purposes of clarification this is what I mean the rest of this sermon when I say a connect group. 

“a connect group is a small gathering of people where you can connect to God; connect to each other, and connect to your community.”

Talk to you about connect groups – here are some individuals who have been in such groups and what they say about them. Video  

Not all groups are connect groups.  Some groups are learning centered – our assembly in this sanctuary today is not a connect group.  Serves a function – worship – learn the scriptures– take communion – dedicate children – baptize believers and so forth.  So we connect to God and are trained and challenged to reach out to others but the fellowship part is not here. 

Many wonderful groups in our communities: civic organizations, lodges, associations that do many wonderful things in our communities but there is no emphasis on connecting to God. 

Connect groups come in lots of sizes and shapes; women’s groups, men groups, Bible studies, SS classes, music groups, camping groups, prayer groups, interest groups   Our desire is to challenge each small group to these three goals. We aren’t doing away with SS but we are doing away with the name – they are now connect groups. 

Jesus was the role model for a connect group.  He gathered 12 men around him.  They learned the scriptures, they trusted one another and they looked for outlets to help people.

Connect to God   I Tim. 4:6-8

When I am talking about connecting to God in this sense of a connect group, I am not talking about the initial connecting to God which we call salvation – that is important and I will spend more time on this next week-I am talking about a continual connection to the presence of God.  Timothy says train yourself to be godly. 

Just as there is a point in time when we get married – there is a continuation of that connectedness that happens as we do life together – share together. 

We don’t want our connect groups to be just a social club or even a service club as nice as those things are. They have their place but we want to have a Biblical basis and emphases on the things we do.  When we gather together in our group, the Bible is the central textbook. 

We want to learn about Jesus – who He is – what He did – what He expects from us.  It takes a lifetime to learn that and we are constantly in the school of discipleship. 

Connect to each other  Gal. 5:13-15

some of you are extroverts – have never met a stranger – can talk to anybody about anything at any time.  you know who you are – probably want to comment on what I just said.  Meet someone and within five minutes they are your best friend.  Greeting time is the highlight of worship for you

Others are introverts  - have never met a stranger – for a different reason – too shy to strike up a conversation unless someone speaks to you.  Not sure what to say – its awkward – feel uncomfortable and you want to get out of there as soon as possible. Our greeting time is torture for you. 

A connect group will help the extroverts tone it down and help the introverts speak up.

a connect group will help you go beyond superficial conversations.  – the weather – favorite sports team –latest tv show   - those things are all superficial.

Its impossible to know 1200 people well.  I know more of you than anyone else and I still don’t know you all more than just a name. 

Our staff is a connect group.  I can share things with them and know its confidential – I can tell them my fears and they won’t belittle me – I can share my failures and know they will still love me – I can share my dreams and know they will pray for me.  I’ll do the same for them.  The basis of our shared connection is Christ but the second connection is with each other. Our third objective is to pray and plan how we can reach those outside our four walls with the good news of the gospel.

Who is your connect group?  Where is it?  Who do you talk to when you are struggling?  It takes time to connect to another person beyond superficial conversation.  It takes time to learn to trust – trust is hard to earn and easy to lose.  One betrayal of confidence beats five times you kept the secret.  

One caution:  nearly every connect group has an EGR – extra grace require person in it.

          Individual who just talks all the time or the one who is in constant crisis     or the one who constantly moves the conversation to themselves  or the one who has somehow been wounded by life and wants to take it out on somebody  or the one who is way left or right of our doctrinal positions and wants to make sure you know they are right and you are wrong.   EGR’s – they need love too.    Just don’t let them destroy your group.  Even Jesus had a EGR in his group named Judas. 

Connect to our community   I Cor. 10:31-11:1  

Easy to get self absorbed with a connect group.  We have been meeting together for years, we are comfortable, we know everybody, don’t bother us.  Most groups if they don’t include this reaching out part will get cozy and closed.

Last week we talked about how we do that as a body at Bayside – Molli gave you some church projects that we are working on as a body.

Within your connect group, you need to find a service project of some kind. It could be inside Bayside or outside.  It needs to be your project – not Bayside’s – don’t ask us for people to join you or money to put it into practice.  If we do that, we will canibilize each others projects. 

Shared experiences knit a group together.  They provide “remember when” moments.   R w we took the food to Pinellas Hope – r w we had the shoe drive – did the Eggstravanza last year;  we did VBS together  - we went to Honduras on the work camp.  Your group will never be the same after they have done a service project together.

There are literally dozens of service projects that a small group can do.  Truth Seekers sponsor orphans from Children of Promise in foreign lands.  Family foundations cleaned up the Mobile Home Park one year – small connect group go to Grace House – youth group has done multiple outreach projects.  Doesn’t have to be expensive or last forever – just a touch that says:  God loves you. 

Are you connected to other Christians – connected to God – to each other and to the wider community?