Posted by: Philip Rushton | January 12, 2012

Precarious Faith: Recovering a missing link in our spiritual life

“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily . . . ” Hebrews 3:12

I listened to a sermon by Andy Stanley this week, where he uses the metaphor of a two-legged bar stool to describe what the Christian life is like when we are not engaged with the community of faith. Stanley argues that our faith rests on a very precarious foundation if we are not supported by other people in our spiritual journey. We could have all our facts about God straightened out and we could even have deep feelings of conviction and still be in danger of falling away. The reason for this is that we are all prone to wander. The writer in Hebrews gets this. The context of the verse I quoted above comes right after he quotes Psalm 95, which recounts numerous times the Israelites wanderered from God. Indeed this is the cycle we see throughout scripture – the faithful are constantly loosing sight of God and turning back towards sin and unbelief. The writer of Hebrews suggests that we are all prone to turn away from the living God. The audience of this letter is the faithful believers. He is writing to insiders.

So what is the writer of Hebrews response to this? What is his plan to prevent people from turning from God? It is amazingly simple. He writes, “but encourage one another daily.” You would think the writer might say something like, “put on an inspiring worship service with a great sermon and an alter call.” Instead, the writer reminds us that in order for us to stay on course we need to daily be in community with other believers. We need to be encouraged and held accountable to others in our every day life. The greek word for ‘encourage’ is a loaded term. It means more then simply telling people to ‘have a good day.’ It is a word that means to exhort, comfort, challenge, and encourage.

As we begin a new season of ministry at the church let me encourage you to find a place where you can pursue God with other people. Facts and feelings can only support us so much – we also need the family of faith to encourage us to keep on track. In the midst of all the things that you have going on this fall, let me encourage you to prioritize joining one of our groups at the church or initiating a spiritual friendship with someone else in the church. This Sunday we will be providing opportunities for you to see and sign up for the various groups that are going on at the church.

Listed below is a list of some of our existing groups as well as some new groups that you have an opportunity to participate in this winter / spring! We had a great visioning meeting with all of our leaders on Saturday and together we are excited to facilitate opportunities for growth and connection!

Sunday Morning Discipleship Groups: (10 am between services)
* Kids and youth programs available at the same time!

1. Coffee Talk: Crystal and Patrick Allen lead a group that reflects on the morning sermon and talks about life. (Fireside Room)

2. Journey: Mary and Randy Sundberg are leading an interactive course on the Gospel of John. It is a place to ponder scripture, seek meaning, and grow in faith together. (Fellowship Hall)

3. Nelson Grahams Bible Study: Nelson is leading a class that seeks to draw encouragement and growth from the major narratives of the Old Testament. (Chapel)

Wednesday Night Groups (6:45 at the church after simple supper)
* Kids and youth programs available at the same time!

4. Bible Read Through: Reading the bible can be challenging and disorienting at times. So Pastor Phil and Julie invite you to read through the bible this year in a community setting. Rather than reading every chapter, we’ll be following the major storyline of scripture. Phil will provide some teaching on how to get the most out of your reading. We begin the story in Genesis this week!

5. The Good and Beautiful Life: Pastor John begins the second book in James Bryan Smith’s series on spiritual formation this week. This book provides instruction on the spiritual practices of the Christian life.

Men’s Groups
6. Men’s Coffee Group: Pastor Phil facilitates this men’s group on Tuesday morning at 6:30am @ Red Leaf Coffee Shop. Current Study – “The Reason For God” by Timothy Keller

7. Men’s Starbucks Groups: Pastor John leads two different Men’s groups on Tuesday and Thursday at 7:00 am at the industrial Starbucks.

8. Men’s Breakfast: Bob Guide leads a study on Bill Hybels book The Power of a Whisper. Meets 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. (Lower Chapel)1st and 3rd Sunday morning at 7:15 Am

Women’s Groups
9. Women’s Bible Study: Pam Graham facilitates a Beth Moore Study on Esther (Thursday 9:30 AM in Gebert Chapel)

10. Women’s Group: Janet Freece is hosting a group at her home on Thursday evenings at 6. Come for a simple soup supper and join her in a study on the book of James.

Other Home Groups Starting Up This Winter
11. Starting Feb 19, Scott and Callie Neves will be hosting a new community group for young families on Sunday evenings. They will begin with a community building curriculum by Andy Stanley called “Community: Your Pathway to Progress.”

12. Starting Mid February Larry and Traci Wood will be hosting a new group that is geared towards parents of teenagers. They will begin with some initial community building gatherings and then start a study on parenting teens called “Sticky Faith.”

13. Phil and Julie have started hosting a community group for people in the mid 20’s to early 30’s. They meet for a potluck and discussion every other Sunday evening at their home at 6:00pm


  1. Do you think there would be any interest in an intergenerational group?Maybe MOPS kids al the way to greyheads. Jesus’ words “Let the little children come ………” Whadauthink?

  2. Hey Gil,

    I think there is certainly some benefits to intergenerational groups. I’m actually quite excited about the range of ages represented in our bible read through group Wednesday! The benefit is that we gain different perspectives and those who are younger have the chance to learn from those who are older. I read an interesting article on how to incorporate children into small group meetings this week.

    At the same time, there can also be some value to forming groups around common age groups. This can often create a sense of commonality that is important to the formation of friendships. At the end of the day I think diversity is the way to go about forming groups in the life of the church. The benefit of a church our size is that we can offer a number of different types of groups – some intergenerational, some around age groups etc.

  3. In a spiritual reality, nothing can be lost and therefore, nothing can be taken, but while we perceive this physical reality, the idea of losing when you give or gaining when you take, are inbred into the worlds thinking.^

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