Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
There’s a lot going on at our church that is good. We are, after all, the Body of Christ, and new life is (necessarily) a definitive characteristic when our identity is that of disciples of Jesus rather than members of an institution.
Beyond the experience of vibrant worship, dynamic ministry, creative mission, and warm fellowship, we’re beginning to see more and more people involved in intentional discipleship initiatives in the context of a growing small-group ministry.
COVENANT: And this – I believe – is where the rubber meets the road in terms of renewal and transformation, spiritual growth that literally rewrites the DNA of a faith community. Covenant groups – built around Bible-study, prayer, mutual encouragement, accountability, and mission – are the place where the good word that challenges and inspires us Sunday mornings begins to take residence and root in our souls.
- “Rejoice always,
- “Pray continually,”
- “Give thanks in all circumstances;”
- “This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
In covenant groups we challenge each other to open our hearts, and to share why we’re rejoicing (or why we’re not rejoicing); we talk about the content of our hearts and minds; we listen, and then we pray for one-another (and not just when we meet); we’re honest about our circumstances – good and bad; we cultivate a spirit of thankfulness; we remind one-another that it’s God’s will that we rejoice, that we pray, and that we give thanks.
Personally, I always find myself energized, blessed, challenged, encouraged, and equipped when I meet with my covenant group.
RESULTS! The greater the percentage of church members who participate in such discipleship initiatives (including Adult ed classes, circles, traditional Bible-studies etc.), then the more the church is defined by rejoicing, by prayer, by thanksgiving, and – in consequence – the living presence of The Living God.
A church that rejoices, prays, and gives thanks can’t help but continue to rejoice, to pray, and to give thanks… and to grow.
Always rejoicing – DEREK
Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. Think of them highly with love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are disorderly. Comfort the discouraged. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone. Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else. Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation. Because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good. Avoid every kind of evil. – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22