Showing items filed under “Jeremy Shirley”
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         Despite the fact that the global population of the world is growing, the world is increasingly becoming a lonely place.  Statistics show us that loneliness is at an all-time high.  The scary thing is that many people don’t even realize their need for community because of the false reality that social media has created for us; giving us the idea we’re very connected to others.  In the church we see this play out as people will attend worship regularly, sit in a room with hundreds of people, potentially shake some hands.  They may make superficial conversation with some people before or during the service and then once it’s over, they’re gone.  Honestly, one of the saddest things is when I hear about is someone who talks about how they just don’t feel connected in our church.  Then, I find out the only thing they do is attend worship.  As important as the worship gathering is, if that’s your main connection point to the church, then you’re going to find yourself lonely and disconnected as well.

        This is exactly why plugging into a Bible Study group is so important.  We call our groups Sunday School and many of them meet on Sunday morning.  As we’ve already talked about, connection or community is an important aspect of Sunday School, but why else would you take another hour of your week to be a part of such a group?  Sunday School is the main strategy our church uses to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments.  Here’s how:

  1. One of the goals of Sunday School is helping people CONNECT to Christ and to others. Sunday School is intentionally evangelistic.  It is designed to unify groups of people in working together to reach people like that.  That makes it the perfect next step for people who live in our community or who learn about our church through participation in another ministry.  Sunday School groups usually hit a target demographic or life stage.  In doing so, each group is best equipped to reach those similar to them.  That’s why it’s so important that we have Sunday School groups for all ages.
  2. Sunday School groups are built to help people GROW in knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word. We use a curriculum that is simple enough for the new believer to take their first steps and also effective in setting up the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of the long time believer.  Part of growth in our Christian walk takes place in the context of community where, “iron sharpens iron”.  Where we can help each other with the speck in another’s eye, all while dealing with the log in our own eye.  Spiritual growth is more about what you learn to do and how you serve God as a result of the teaching than it is a new nugget of truth you’ve never heard.  That’s why Sunday School is a launch pad for new leaders both in the Sunday School ministry and in other ministries throughout the church.
  3. The natural overflow of someone becoming a disciple by helping people Connect to Christ and Grow in the teaching of the Word is to begin to SERVE. Sunday School provides opportunities to serve both in terms of leadership and roles to help the group exist.  Probably equally important are the countless opportunities that exist to serve one another.  When you’re part of a group, you get to know people, you learn about their needs, you begin to pray for them and ultimately you minister to their needs.  It’s in the context of a Sunday School group where the vast majority of the needs of people in our church are cared for.   Through the fellowship of believers who grow in relationship with one another, a love for one another develops and beautiful ministry begins to take place among the people involved.

        If you’ve never considered joining a Sunday School group or maybe you just haven’t quite found the right one for you; now is a great time to Plug Into Sunday School!  Over the next few weeks you’ll notice a number of our Sunday School groups in the foyer ready to share with you about their group.  If you need help finding a group, you’re always welcome to stop by our Welcome Center and they can direct you towards a group that fits where you’re at in life.  Another great way to find a group is by heading over the our website where you can check out a listing of all our Bible study group opportunities:

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with
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              I’ll be the first one to admit that there is comfort in doing things the way that they’ve always been done, in the convenient way, in the familiar way, and in the way everyone else does it.  We’ve all sat in a meeting before where someone came up with a “crazy” idea and you tried to hide the look on your face as you thought “nobody does it that way”.  As much as I may not like doing things in a different and new way sometimes, I’m constantly reminded in Scripture of how God operates regularly in the “nobody does it that way” method. 

                This is a silly way to approach things, but if God had a meeting where plans were made for some of the great stories of faith in history, this is how they would have played out with me at the table.

  • Abraham Moves to Caanan – Genesis 12 – If God asked me my opinion on the best way to start a great nation of people who will love God, my first thought is when he mentioned Abraham is that it’s a great idea because Abraham has wealth, livestock, and land. He’s got everything we need to start a powerful nation.  He can rally those around him, those he has influence over and we’ll be well on our way to having a powerful nation for the Lord right there in Haran.  Then God says, well I was planning on asking Abraham to move, but I’m not telling him where he’s going.  About that time, I’m fighting off the urge to say “nobody does it that way”.  God goes with his plan, despite in my mind it being a bad idea…and because of Abraham’s faith, it works!
  • Conquering Jericho – Joshua 6 – God’s got his people moving into the land…by the way that’s the same land that Abraham moved to…yea that land where God decided to move Abraham to make a great nation despite all my reservations. Anyway, God says we are going to conquer Jericho.  I put on my military general hat and I’m trying to figure out how many soldiers we have, what weapons we have, what are we going to do to breach the walls of this city.  Realizing it’s going to be impossible to breach the walls of the city, I advise God we probably should just leave them alone and find another city to conquer.  God then puts forward the idea of marching around the city and on the final day blowing trumpets and the walls coming down.  When I hear the idea, I fight off the urge to tell God “nobody does it that way”.  Crazy thing happened…it worked.
  • David and Goliath – 1 Samuel 17 – The Philistines have become a massive annoyance to God’s people, so God brings up dealing with their greatest soldier Goliath and in the process using this event to prepare a future king for His people. I begin to think about our best soldiers, the strongest, the most influential, the ones who would be the greatest leaders.  I begin to name the best of the best, each time God saying “no”.  He finally says I want David to do it.  I’m like, “Who’s David?”  When he proceeds to explain David is just a shepherd boy, I fight off the urge to tell God “nobody does it that way”.  Amazingly enough, despite my better judgement, David was able to defeat Goliath and ultimately was a king for God’s people.
  • Jesus Crucifixion – Matthew 27 – First of all let it be known that when God decided to send His son Jesus into the world as a baby, I didn’t think it was a good idea. Then as His life progressed and God started talking about how Jesus would die on the cross, I was pretty sure that was a misguided thought.  Jesus could conquer the Roman empire by rallying his followers, He is God’s son after all.  Jesus could have called down the angels, defeated anyone who opposed Him and set the world straight once and for all.  Despite what I thought, God said the only way to fix sin was for His son Jesus to die.  Again, as I’ve grown accustom to, I fought back the urge to say “nobody does it that way”.  You’d think by now I’d realize when God wants to do things in a new, different, sometimes crazy way…it works out.  In this case, Jesus did die, He rose from the dead and God’s plan to defeat sin worked.
  • Great Commission – Matthew 28 – After the whole Jesus dying on the cross thing and Him coming back to life thing worked out, I was convinced Jesus was going to begin to rule. He’d spread His message of repentance and salvation through Christ.   We were on the verge of the world changing.  Then God said, it’s time for Jesus to come back to heaven.  I’m going to put my followers in charge of continuing to spread the gospel.  My first thought is why would you put your all-star Jesus on the bench, let Him do His thing and the whole world will know.  I again resisted the urge to remind God that “nobody does it like that”.  The idea of trusting a bunch of sinners to carry out such an important mission for God seemed crazy, truly “nobody does it like that”.  Yet despite my better judgement when Jesus returned to heaven, the early church formed and spread like wildfire and continues to grow globally. 

               I could go on and on with story after story of all the bad ideas, in my opinion, that God has had over time and with every one of them I’d have to admit I was wrong.  Over and over and over again, God chooses to do things like nobody else does.  As much as doing things the comfortable way or the way everyone else would do it sounds good to me, I’m constantly challenged with the reality the God’s ways just don’t always make sense to me.  That’s where faith comes in.  Next time things aren’t going according to your plans or you feel like God wants you to do something a different way and the urge to say “nobody does it that way” comes, remember…God does it that way!

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