How non-supernatural Christians define prophecy.

by K.W. Leslie, 15 November

How non-supernaturalist Christians confuse the gift of exhortation with the gift of prophecy.

In the scriptures, a prophet is a person who hears God and shares his messages with others. Anyone can hear God, so anyone can become a prophet, and since every Christian has the Holy Spirit within them, Christians especially can become prophets. It’s kind of our birthright. Ac 2.17-18

However. In popular Christian culture, particularly among Christians who have their doubts or fears about miracles and the supernatural, “prophecy” has been redefined. To these folks, prophecy still totally refers to sharing God’s messages with others. But as for hearing that message directly from God… well that’s not part of their understanding. Either ’cause they insist God doesn’t do that anymore, or ’cause they seriously downplay anything supernatural about the way Christians get God’s messages.

So to them, a “prophet” is anyone who shares God’s truths. They read ’em in the bible, preach the bible, and voilà they’re a prophet. Or they heard these truths from another preacher, shared ’em with others, and that makes ’em a prophet too. Basically every Christian preacher and teacher is a prophet.

To some, what especially makes ’em a prophet is the message. If they radically stand up for God, over and against a culture which doesn’t care about him, or wants to water him down into something inoffensive and powerless, that’s what makes ’em prophets: They’re hardcore. Prophets aren’t just any teachers, but teachers of revolution. Of revival. Of profound, God-seeking change.

To others, the active ingredient is their effectiveness. ’Cause loads of Christians preach radical change. But if these preachers’ messages actually get people to radically change, they must have a gift!—and, they presume, it’s the gift of prophecy. God granted them the power for their words to make a difference. God made ’em really good public speakers, like Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. Isn’t that all prophecy is?

What these alternate definitions have in common is that exhortation makes the prophet. If you preach God’s message—maybe radically, maybe effectively—you’re a prophet.

Why I have a problem with these alternate definitions: Prophets don’t act that way in the bible. They heard God. Samuel’s first prophecy wasn’t radical change but judgment, and it clearly didn’t convict Eli to change his behavior.

1 Samuel 3.10-18 KWL
10 The LORD came, stood, and called, same as usual: “Samuel. Samuel.”
Samuel said, “Speak. Your slave hears you.”
11 The LORD told Samuel, “Look, I’m doing a work in Israel which everyone will hear of.
Their two ears will turn red with shame.
12 On that day, I do to Eli everything I said about his house, start to finish:
13 I told Eli when I judged his house for always, for its corruption.
He already knows: His sons made themselves unholy, and he didn’t stop them.
14 So I promised Eli’s house: Can it make atonement for always,
with a mere sacrifice and offering for Eli’s house’s sin?”
15 Samuel lay down till morning. He opened the door of the LORD’s house.
Samuel was afraid to present the vision to Eli.
16 Eli called Samuel, and said, “Samuel my son.” Samuel said, “Look at me.”
17 Eli said, “What was the word to you? Please don’t hide from me.
God do it to you, and do it again, if you hide the word from me—
all the word he told you.”
18 Samuel told Eli the whole message, and hid from him nothing.
Eli said, “He’s the LORD. He does what’s good in his eyes.”

Yeah, I know; various Christians will insist all the meanings and definitions of miracles and prophecy and revelation got changed between bible times and today, or between Old Testament times and New. It’s rubbish, but popular rubbish. Samuel was identified a prophet because Samuel heard God. Not because of what he said and how he said it. Solely because of how he got what he said.

If your “prophecy” isn’t the product of hearing God, ’tain’t prophecy.

When faith won’t fit in the pagan pigeonhole.

by K.W. Leslie, 14 November

’Cause skeptics hate it when you inform ’em you don’t believe in wishful thinking either.

When Christians define the word faith, we go with the definition found in Hebrews. “The solid basis of hope, the proof of actions we’ve not seen,” is how I usually put it. He 11.1 We haven’t seen something, but we believe it anyway—for solid reasons. Usually ’cause we’re taking someone’s word for it, like Jesus’s.

When pagans define it, they either go with wishful thinking, blind optimism, or the ability to believe imaginary things without evidence. You know, stuff we shouldn’t believe. And to be fair, some Christians do think of faith that way, ’cause they haven’t read Hebrews, or their leaders did a sucky job teaching ’em about faith. It’s not like they got their false definition from nowhere.

Yep, I read Hebrews, and my church leaders were pretty good about defining faith accurately. So when skeptical pagans start to mock faith—“Oh, you Christians only believe that rubbish because you want so bad for it to be true”—I correct ’em. Christian faith is based on evidence, not wishes. Based on the testimony of those who’ve seen stuff and shared it. 1Jn 1.1-4 Based on trustworthy, knowledgeable people, like Jesus. Based on the scriptures, which were written by such people. Wishing doesn’t make it so; wishing makes nothing so.

In Christianity, faith ultimately takes Jesus’s word for it. In the rest of life, we tend to take other people’s word for it. When reporters present the news, we take their word for it. When a dictionary, encyclopedia, or other reference work says something’s so, we take their authors’ word for it. When a scientific journal makes a claim, we take the researcher’s word for it—or we do the research ourselves and debunk ’em, but more often it’s easier to just presume they did the research properly and do take their word for it. In every last one of these areas, we’re practicing faith. ’Cause like Hebrews describes it, these are actions we’ve not seen. But we have a solid basis for believing ’em anyway.

Now. When I explain it to pagans that way, you’d think they’d respond, “Oh! That’s surprising. I didn’t realize you guys thought about faith that way. I’m still not sure I’d reach the same conclusions about God as you, but it’s good to know you put some intellectual rigor into your belief system.”

Instead it’s more like, “…No that’s not what you people mean by faith. It’s the ability to believe imaginary stuff as if it’s real. You’re trying to pull a fast one.”

And sometimes it’s outrage. “How dare you compare my trusting a scientist in any way with your religious belief in God. What I’m doing isn’t faith. Faith is a religious thing. It has nothing at all to do with what I practice.”

Either way, pagan skeptics absolutely hate our definition. They imagine they have religion all sorted out. When they’re told otherwise, they lose their cool: Their worldview is based on the idea faith is purely a religious practice—and a dumb one—which has nothing whatsoever to do with the real, material world of facts, evidence, logic, science, and reason. Faith is for the religious; they’re not religious; ergo they don’t do faith. Period. Don’t you dare use the F-word on them.

Why does it freak ’em out so much? Well they‘re gonna hate this explanation too: They’re really fond of the idea religion is intellectually pathetic. Makes ’em feel good about themselves for being irreligious. Finding out they’re wrong—that they never made the effort to find out what religion actually has in it; that their dismissive attitudes are actually based on prejudice and presumption—shakes their faith in their skepticism. Getting your faith shaken tends to freak anyone out, Christian or not.

Yep, I used the F-word to describe ’em again. Hey, if the word fits.

The “Your will be done” prayer.

by K.W. Leslie, 13 November

Not just praying it for others, but ourselves. And meaning it!

The “Your will be done” prayer is part of the Lord’s Prayer. Obviously it’s the “Thy will be done” bit. Mt 6.10 I’ve already discussed where we’re praying for his will to be done. Today it’s more about how we fulfill that particular prayer of his. Yep, it’s about doing God’s will.

Typically when Christians pray “Your will be done,” we’re not talking about ourselves. We’re talking about everyone. “Thy will be done on earth,” is how the full clause goes, so we’re thinking about how God’s will gets done on earth as a whole, and by all humanity instead of us as individuals. When we pray it, we’re praying humanity collectively does God’s will. We’re not always remembering that we—you and I and everyone else—have to do God’s will too. Usually we’re thinking about how everybody else really oughta follow God’s will, ’cause they don’t, the earth sucks, and it’s their fault.

So when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we’re not always praying that we do God’s will. We make it a prayer for everyone else. Everyone not us.

But we are part of collective humanity, and today let’s get away from how everybody else isn’t pulling their weight. When you pray “Your will be done,” trying praying it this way: “Your will be done by me.”

’Cause we do wanna do God’s will, right?

Well no, we don’t always. Let’s be honest. We wanna do our will. We’re ready and eager to do God’s will when it coincides with our will. God wants us to go to church, and if we like church, this is no problem! And if we hate church, this is a huge problem, and suddenly we’re gonna be very receptive to any Christian who tells us we might not have to go; that “the communion of saints” is an option, that you can forsake gathering together, He 10.25 and that you won’t grow undisciplined, weird, heretic, and less loving because you’ve no one to sharpen your iron. Pr 27.17 Basically we’ll just do our own thing, cling to any excuse for why God might be okay with it, and even imagine it was all his idea, if we can mentally get away with it.

So, sometimes we wanna do God’s will. Which is why we need to keep praying this prayer. We need to learn to always wanna do his will. We need God to not let us get away with weaseling out of it.

Seek the living bread! Accept no substitutes.

by K.W. Leslie, 12 November

Because some of our visions of New Jerusalem are awfully materialistic… and aren’t so much about being with Jesus.

John 6.25-29.

At the beginning John’s chapter 6, Jesus had his students feed 5,000 people with five rolls and fish spread. The people’s conclusion? Jesus was the Prophet, the End Times figure, the “prophet like Moses,” Dt 18.15 whom the Pharisees wondered whether John the baptist was. Jn 1.21 Because Jesus fed ’em bread, just like Moses fed the Hebrews manna. So he’s a prophet like Moses!

The next day they sought Jesus and couldn’t find him. So they returned to Jesus’s home base of Kfar Nahum… and there he was.

John 6.25-27 KWL
25 Finding Jesus on the far side of the lake, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 In reply Jesus told them, “Amen amen! I promise you seek me not because you saw miracles:
Instead it’s because you ate the rolls and were filled.
27 Don’t toil for perishable food! Instead seek food which lasts for eternal life.
The Son of Man will give it to you, for Father God sealed this man.”

Various preachers love to claim this lesson is all about the people coming to Jesus for free bread, and Jesus responding he didn’t come to teach people to expect handouts. And whenever I hear this, it’s obvious they didn’t study the text, and instead they’re preaching their stingy politics instead of God’s kingdom. God doesn’t want us to be dependent on him for daily bread? Have they heard of the Lord’s Prayer? What bible are they reading?

Being dependent on God is precisely what God wants. You do realize he gave the Hebrews free manna for 40 years. The only work they had to do for it, was go pick it off the ground and stick to a liter a day. (Two liters on Friday; no liters on Saturday. Sabbath, y’know.) No planting, no watering, no waiting, no harvesting, no winnowing, no grinding; just free manna. As easy as when we buy flour at the grocery store; easier ’cause you pay nothing. You wanna agitate about handouts? You need to learn about God’s generosity, ’cause you’re deficient in it.

Free bread, free food in general, is one of the traits of Kingdom Come. Because of sin, humanity was cursed to toil for our food. Ge 3.17 Once God deals with our sin, the curse gets lifted and no more toil. That’s what we expect in heaven: Eternal rest! The Galileans expected it too. And suddenly after one of Jesus’s lessons, his students walk round handing out bread the Galileans didn’t have to work for. Then Jesus tells them about “food which lasts for eternal life,” and “the Son of Man will give it to you.” It doesn’t sound at all like Jesus was telling them, “I’m not here to give people handouts.” Just the opposite!

But.

Yeah, there’s a but. A big huge one. A but which also applies to us, because we’re guilty of precisely the same thing as the Galileans. Jesus told ’em to not seek perishable bread, but eternal-life bread. Because they were seeking perishable bread. They were seeking something material. Lots of it; enough so they’d regularly be filled; an abundance of it; so they were seeking a wealth of this material. Do I have to spell it out any more? Fine: Material wealth.

So… how many Christians are hoping to make it to Kingdom Come so they can have a crown filled with jewels, and a mansion on a street of gold?

And instead Jesus wants us to have living bread. Which—spoilers—is Jesus himself. Jn 6.35

Should you lead a small group?

by K.W. Leslie, 08 November

Basically, get over yourself.

If your church doesn’t have a small group to join—or does, but not the sort of small group you’d really like to join—you do realize you can start one, right?

They’re not at all hard to start. I’ve started many. Pick some people whom you’d like to involved in your group, pick a time and place, and start meeting. Since you’re doing this above board (right?) let your church leadership know you’re meeting, but otherwise that’s all it really takes.

There are only three things that’d prevent you from starting such a group:

  • YOU. You don’t wanna run one, don’t have the time, or don’t feel you’re qualified.
  • YOUR PEOPLE. They don’t wanna come. Or they’re awful.
  • YOUR CHURCH LEADERS. They don’t want one.

I’ll deal with each of these issues in turn. First, let’s talk about you.

A lot of Christians would love certain ministries to exist in their churches… but they don’t. ’Cause reasons. They might cost money, or the church lacks proper facilities, or Jesus hasn’t specifically appeared to them in a vision and ordered, “Go thou and start a ministry.” Whatever lame excuse works for them. The reality is just about any Christian could step up and start one, but nobody wants the job. We’re all looking at one another, waiting for somebody else to do something, and in so doing get us off the hook.

“I don’t have the time” is a pretty common excuse. Some ministries do require a time commitment. A bible study requires prep time, ’cause the study leader actually has to study! A book study requires that somebody reads the book, right? So that’s a chunk of time you’ve gotta carve out from the rest of your week… which you were planning to use to watch football, play a video game, binge-watch a TV series, read a novel, sleep in on Saturday, or some other recreational activity which doesn’t build relationships with your family members. Much less the people of your church.

“I don’t feel qualified” is likewise a common excuse: Christians feel they need some training or education before they can lead others. And yeah, it wouldn’t hurt to read a book, take a class, or listen to podcasts about leadership. But God’s only qualification for Christian leaders is maturity: We gotta be fruitful Christians who can encourage others to likewise produce the Spirit’s fruit. Most of us have no problem organizing parties, or coordinating friends to meet up at some event, and really that is the extent of the actual “leadership” necessary for small groups. Seriously. Just get ’em to show up!

Our personal excuses for not starting a small group are, bluntly, crap. Don’t kid yourself. If you wanna start a small group, ain’t nothing but your own immaturity stopping you.

The bible’s not a biology textbook!

by K.W. Leslie, 07 November

Leviticus 11.13-19 • Deuteronomy 14.11-18 • Jonah 1.17 • Matthew 12.40

During a talk with a fellow Christian, we went off on a bit of a tangent.

ME. “…Like when Jonah got swallowed by the whale…”
HE. “Sea creature.”
ME. “Whale. How’re you getting ‘sea creature’ from kítus?
HE. “From what?”
HE.Kítus. The Greek word for ‘whale.’ The word Jesus used when he talked about Jonah being in the whale’s belly three days and nights. Mt 12.40 It’s the word we get our adjective ‘cetacean’ from, which refers to whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other marine mammals.”
HE. [confused; betcha he didn’t expect me to know what I was talking about] “But Jonah said he was swallowed by a great fish.” Jh 1.17
ME. “Sure.”
HE. “Well a whale’s not a fish.”
ME. “Not anymore. It was a fish in Jesus’s day.”
HE. “Whales used to be fish…?”
HE. “Yep. No, they didn’t once have gills then evolve lungs. They used to be fish because the ancients classified them as fish: If it lives in the sea it’s a fish. Then somebody realized some of these fishes have lungs, and decided if you have lungs you’re not a fish, and humanity redefined ‘fish.’ Well, the bible’s still using the old definition. So whales, in the bible, are still big fish.”
HE. [still confused] “But whales aren’t fish.”
ME. “Aren’t fish now. Were fish back in Jesus and Jonah’s day.”
HE. “So are you saying the bible’s wrong, or we are?”
ME. “Neither. The bible doesn’t define fish; it explains God. We define fish. You remember Adam got to name the animals. Ge 2.19-20 We get to decide what’s called a fish and what’s not. And if we update the words, we gotta update our bible translations. Problem is, sometimes we update ’em wrong and make the bible look inconsistent. It’s not. It’s just a quirk of language.”

Turns out his confusion came from the fact his updated bible translation changed the wrong word. It took Jesus’s kítos—which still means “whale” in modern Greek!—and rendered it thisaway:

Matthew 12.40 NIV
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Which isn’t an entirely illegitimate translation. To Jesus’s mind (at the time) a whale was a huge fish. But if we wanna be precise, he said kítus/“whale.” Whenever there appears to be a bible difficulty, the NIV is notorious for changing the text till it’s not so difficult anymore.

Problem is, people aren’t always gonna read an NIV bible. Plenty of people still read the KJV. All those Gideon bibles in the hotel rooms still read “whale’s belly,” and people are still gonna read ’em. And maybe wonder why Jesus thought a marine mammal was a fish. If you don’t know your history, you won’t know why it was totally okay for Jesus to think that.

Praying or singing yourself into an “altered state.”

by K.W. Leslie, 06 November

The fear that we’re so excited to worship God, Satan might grab a toehold.

Last month I had a correspondent, whom I called Fenella, object to the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”) on the grounds it’s vain repetition.

Fenella’s concern is one I’ve heard dozens of times: When Christians pray something over and over and over, they figure we’re doing it to psyche ourselves into a state of euphoria. Other Christians have the very same complaint about the way certain churches do their music, or pick particularly repetitive songs: All that repetition isn’t done to praise God; it’s to whip ourselves into an altered state of consciousness. The “trance state,” as some of ’em describe it.

Once we’re in this trance, they worry we’re susceptible to hypnotic suggestion. Naughty pastors might try to insert heretic ideas in our minds. Although more of these concerned Christians are more worried about demonic activity. Nevermind the fact these Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit: The critics are entirely sure devils can nonetheless climb into us while we’re praying and worshiping the Almighty. Because we’re praying so wrong.

I recently skimmed an article by a particularly fearful Christian; we’ll call him Otmar. Yeah, I skimmed the piece: I was trying to suss out Otmar’s main points, but these practices enrage him so much, he couldn’t stick to his descriptions and kept interrupting to vent his spleen. Dude’s got issues. (But now I’m digressing.)

Y’notice Evangelical churches tend to start our services with three fast songs, then three slow songs. Or more, or fewer, but it’s typically fast, then slow. “Three fast, three slow” was a joke we regularly made in my Christian college. But Otmar got hold of some charismatic church’s guidelines to their worship pastors about why they go fast, then slow, and the sort of mood they’re trying to set for the worshipers. Or “atmosphere,” as the church called it; same thing.

Most of the churches I visit totally do the same thing. And for the very same reasons. I’ll own up to it.

  • When you walk into the service, the church usually has some music playing to set the mood. Typically songs the people already know. Something what gets people thinking, “We’re gonna do worship songs soon.”
  • Then a “gathering song”—one which invites people to start singing and worshiping and praising God. One of my previous worship pastors really liked to use “Come, Now Is the Time to Worship.” Something fast and exciting. Frequently a song about praise, and why we oughta praise God—and that it’s fun!
  • Then another fast song or two. Or three.
  • Then we slow it down. Partly ’cause we can’t have everybody all amped up during the sitting-down portions of the service. Partly so people shout and jump less, and get more introspective and meditative, and hopefully pay more attention to anything the Holy Spirit might tell them.
  • Then another slow song or two. Or stretch out the one song for a while, depending on how much the worship pastor really loves that song the Spirit’s leading.

My own church tends to do four songs total. And since I get to pick the preservice music, I tend to go with gospel. They listen to enough white music on K-LOVE already.

Back to Otmar. He insisted on reading something insidious into everything this church wrote. They used the word “invocation” for the gathering song. That’s an old-timey Christianese word, found in all sorts of churches, frequently to describe the opening prayer. Otmar couldn’t help but wonder what other things it might invoke. Like devils. Told you dude’s got issues.

And as I’ve stated many times elsewhere, the issue actually has nothing to do with whether these prayer and worship practices open Christians to evil forces. ’Cause they don’t. The issue’s entirely about style. It’s about individual Christians’ individual preferences about how they prefer we pray and sing. It’s equivalent to not liking the carpet in the auditorium. Except the guy who hates the carpet is claiming mauve is the devil’s color, and having it in the auditorium is dooming us to hell.

I admit there are songs I dislike so much, I can easily accuse them of being farted into existence by Satan itself. But I’m kidding. Fools like Fenella and Otmar aren’t kidding at all.

Seeking Jesus—who’s curing people in the next town.

by K.W. Leslie, 05 November

And how this got Jesus’s students to reconsider a few things.

Mark 6.53-56 • Matthew 14.34-36 • John 6.22-25.

After Jesus and Peter walked on water, the gospels go in different directions. Mark heads down south to Khinnerót, a town about 8 kilometers south from Kfar Nahum. Once they land, Jesus and his students do some stuff there. Matthew follows Mark’s lead and tells much the same story.

Whereas John stays in Beit Sayid, where the 5,000 got fed, where everybody was wondering what happened to Jesus. Then they went to look for him, and it looks like they found him at his home base of Kfar Nahum. Which isn’t Khinnerót.

Readers get their choice as to how to interpret this divergence. Some of ’em claim it’s a flat-out contradiction: Jesus went either one place or the other, and can’t possibly have gone to both places. Others point it doesn’t need to be a contradiction: First Jesus landed in Khinnerót, then walked the 8 klicks to Kfar Nahum, and by the time the people finally found him in John, he was home. The stories can have happened simultaneously, y’know.

But I remind you: The authors of the gospels weren’t trying to make their stories line up, and didn’t always care about chronological order. They were sharing the parts they considered important, in an order which flowed naturally to them. If they don’t line up precisely, big deal. (If they did line up precisely, people would think they’re quoting one another—which is exactly what scholars think is the case with the synoptic gospels.) So don‘t fret that it looks like a contradiction: It’s not. The writers are just telling different stories.

But for fun, we can always pretend these stories happened simultaneously. It creates a little dramatic tension. Which, I admit, is entirely unnecessary; it’s why I say we’re doing it for fun. In real life there was probably no tension at all: No wild, desperate hunt for Jesus while he’s meanwhile busy in Khinnerót.

John 6.22-25 KWL
22 In the morning, the crowd staying on the near side of the lake looked for a boat.
But it wasn’t there; just the one.
For Jesus hadn’t gone off with his students in the boat; the students left alone instead.
23 Boats from Tiberias instead came near the place they ate the rolls for which the Master gave thanks.
24 So when the crowd saw Jesus wasn’t there, nor his students, they entered the boats and went to Kfar Nahum, seeking Jesus.
25 Finding Jesus on the far side of the lake, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Why were they so anxious to find Jesus? ’Cause they deduced he’s the End Times prophet, so they wanted to stick around and follow him, and see whether he’d overthrow the Romans. The rest of John 6 dashed these hopes; I’ll discuss that in more detail later.

“The most important election of your life,” it’s not.

by K.W. Leslie, 02 November

Election Day in the United States is this coming Tuesday. I confess: I still haven’t yet read my state’s propositions. I’m gonna, ’cause they’re the most important thing on the ballot. Not the candidates, and that includes the people running for governor and mayor. The stuff in the propositions directly affect citizens’ lives in a significant way on a consistent basis.

Our elected officials? Yeah, they can affect us in a similar way. Like when they wanna radically change things, and that’s the platform they’re running on. Or when they have no such agenda, but they’re fools who lack self-control. It doesn’t like we have any such people in the current crop of candidates, other than the third-party folks who seldom poll well and rarely win. True, partisans are claiming the opposition party’s candidate is one of those radicals or fools, but that’s an old political tactic meant to put fear in the voters and rile up the base.

But once again, this election is being touted as “the most important election of your life.” Because we have to get out there and vote. If you’re Republican, it’s because it’s vital to keep control of the Congress. If you’re Democrat, it’s because it’s vital to kick out the Republicans and finally make the Congress a real check and balance against the president. And if you’re independent… we all know you’re fully in support of one party or the other, but like to depict yourself as above it all or smarter than partisans—and you’re not fooling anyone.

Me, I’ve spent the last 30 years hearing partisans insist no, this is the most important election ever. I mean, the previous one was a big deal, but this one is for all the marbles. So vote!

Meh. I’m not saying don’t vote; by all means do. (Especially if some of your elected officials are suppressing your neighbor’s votes; go vote on your neighbors’ behalf.) But the most important election? Even one of the most important elections? We don’t know that.

Because history determines which elections were the most important. Which elections had the biggest impact on the United States, and the world outside it. Which candidates changed America the most for the better, or worse. Which laws helped or ruined the most people. We don’t know any of this stuff till after the fact. We can guess, but we’ve no idea.

Small groups. Are you in one?

by K.W. Leslie, 01 November

If you’re not truly interacting with fellow Christians, you need to be.

Jesus feels it necessary for his followers to have a support system. That’s why he invented the church. That’s why we gotta go to church. We need family: Sisters and brothers in Christ with similar experiences, who’ve been through what we’re going through, who can aid and encourage us. We’re not meant to go it alone!

But many churches are so large, it’s really easy to be alone anyway.

Sunday morning services are where we’re meant to worship God together, as a group. But they’re seldom set up to be interactive. Interaction slows things down, y’know. And when a church is full of non-social or antisocial people, they kinda like things that way: They can go to church, talk to no one, never share, never get to know one another, never give a testimony. They’ll sing with the music, listen to the preacher, take holy communion, and that’s it: They didn’t interact with one another. Just with God… assuming they aren’t just going through the motions of dead religion.

You could have a church full of shouting Christians, exclaiming “Amen!” and “Preach it!” every two minutes. Yet they still don’t interact with one another.

How’re Christians gonna be a support system to one another when we won’t interact? Well, we won’t be.

Hence small groups.

Christians call our small groups by all sorts of names: Bible studies, cell groups, core groups, home church, study groups, ministry groups, prayer circles, love feasts, supper clubs, book groups, inreach groups, family groups, life groups, whatever. Regardless of the name, what they have in common is they’re relatively, purposefully small. Small enough to be interactive.

Their stated purpose might be to learn more about bible, pray together, minister together, watch a video series, study a book, or share a hobby. Their real purpose is fellowship. They’re so Christians get to know one another. The other stuff is secondary.