DON’T COME TO WORSHIP.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you only have one hour a week to invest in your spiritual life, don’t come to worship!
I wish I could take credit for this sentiment, but full credit belongs to my pastor during my undergraduate career. I was heavily involved in the Methodist campus ministry, where Rusty Teeter was the pastor (Rusty would play a pivotal role in helping me to discern God’s call to ministry later in my college career). During my second year at Texas (yes, I’m ready for college football to be back; no, I’m not looking forward to playing all of your SEC teams next year!), he invited me to meet weekly with him and several other students to pray for each other, read scripture together and grow closer to God together. I promise that it wasn’t as nerdy as it sounds- we didn’t wear monk’s robes and pray our way through each night. At the time, it didn’t really feel like a bible study or a small group; it was just setting aside the same hour or two each week to spend time with my best friends.
Rusty was the one who hammered this into us: if we only had one hour a week to give to the Methodist campus ministry, then we should give that hour to a small group rather than worship. He got it – we were college kids with more than enough to fill our plates, and he knew that most of us would not be able to make time for both a worship service and a small group. I had heard him say this over and over throughout my first year but never cared to hear what he was really saying. It wasn’t until I was part of the kind of group that he was talking about that I understood the value.
Rusty wasn’t making the argument that worship is unimportant (which is how I took his statement initially). As a pastor, he clearly believed in the value of worshipping the God who made us and saves us. Rather, Rusty believed whole-heartedly that the gospel was not just about the inner state of our hearts, the gospel was meant to change how we live each day. He could see, and I later came to understand, that the path to transformation runs directly through our willingness to be together with other followers of Jesus and figure out how to be faithful together. This is why we must Rediscover Together!
This is how our people have followed Jesus for two millennia. It has certainly taken on a different flavor according to the location and time in which it was lived, but Christian’s from the early church to the Reformation to Wesley’s early Methodist movement have gathered in smaller groups to encourage, challenge and walk with one another. We’re missing a fundamental element of our faith when we fail to make time for this expression of faith.
This is work that cannot be done alone. This is why, if you have only one hour a week to give to your spiritual life, you should invest that time in a group of people who will help move you along the journey of transformation. You may find that group entirely outside of your church family, which is absolutely fine! But if you’re still looking for your people, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to reach out to Allison Kickham and talk to her about some of the groups that are already pursuing Christ together within PTCUMC.
Of course, it’s impossible to be transformed by the power of God in a small group without also growing a desire to worship God as well. I guess it’s a 2 for 1 deal in the end!