Recognize that line? If you’re my age or older, those words ring a bell. I grew up with this sitcom called Cheers, about this bar in Boston that began as a hang-out place but became like family. They loved to go, not only because of what they were able to eat or drink, but because of the people. A place where they know your name.
Here’s the theme song to Cheers,
“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all of your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
and they’re always glad you came.
You want to be where you can see
our troubles are all the same.
You want to go where everybody knows your name!”
I think it’s unfortunate that’s about a bar and not the church! I really believe that God designed the church to be the place where you are known. Some may think, “This church is too big, they can’t know my name.” And that’s why the Bible says about the early church,
They worshiped together at the Temple (BIG) and met in homes (SMALL) for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity. Acts 2:46
Yes, we need the big (Sunday Worship) so we can do BIG things for Jesus, but we need the small (Growth Groups) so everybody can know your name. And that’s why every one of us that call The Ridge home, should be in a group, a Growth Group.
I want to give you 10 reasons you need connection in Growth Group.
1. I Need to Be Known
It’s just like the Cheer’s song. “A place where everybody KNOWS your name.” Why? Because there’s a public side to me, but there’s another side to me, things I keep in until I am in a safe place to share or a safe place to be known. We all will have “that” day It’s the day we get the bad news, it’s the day we get the test results, it’s the day, where we lose the loved one. All of us need someone on “that” day! We don’t even need a church of fifty, we only need a few people who know and care. We need the Growth Group, the place where everybody knows our name and says, “I know that hurts. I’m praying for you. I know you are hurting, I want to care for you.” “Here’s some money for that bill.” “Let me watch your kids so you can take care of _______.” When people know you they will care for you. It’s about moving from the Sunday crowd where you have been more or less anonymous into a small group of people that know each other beyond just a name. They know you and when life throws you a curve.
2. I Need People Who Will Help Me. In our church audience, we all “know” that life is hard. But we may not know that you specifically lost a job, unless you are in a group, then we really “know!” Groups make your needs known, your hurts know and then people can do something about them. Sure, put it down on a Connection card, someone will email or call you. But why not have someone give you a hug and pray for you in person? That’s what happens in a group.
On a regular basis, we have Growth Groups provide meals, watch kids, raise hundreds, even thousands of dollars for a bill, buy gifts, loan a car, help move or just celebrate life’s happy times like birthdays, showers and anniversaries. Who wouldn’t want that?
Here’s another reason why I need a Growth Group
3. I Need a Place to Remove My Masks
I’ve got a mask. I’ve got some things that you don’t know about me and you’re not going to know about me! We can play games with large groups of people. But in my family, in my group, I’m don’t need to wear a mask. At some point it needs to come down. Here’s why. I’m vulnerable if no one knows about me. If there’s something that only you know about you, you’re vulnerable.
We refuse to wear masks and play games… Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open… 2 Corinthians 4:2 MSG
It’s like that movie with James Franco, 127 Hours. Did you that? He goes hiking but doesn’t tell anyone where he is. No one has a clue. He falls down into this hole and rock pins his hand where he can’t get out. He’s stuck there for 127 hours, drinking his urine, suffering alone, because no one knows where he is. He finally has to cut his hand off with a pocket knife to get away.
4. I Need People Who Will Protect Me
Do you realize that’s how unsafe our lives are if no one knows. We get maimed. Bankruptcy, the addiction, the affair will take a limb from the person who keeps it a secret!
We have people that will listen, pray, help you with a financial plan, a counselor, software or something to help you overcome your problem. But no one can if you keep it to yourself. By the way, the movie 127 Hours was based on a true story and now the real character tells everywhere where he’s going, everywhere. We need to tell people (not all people but some people) where we are, who we are, and what we struggle with.
You’re vulnerable if no one knows..so, what do we need?
5. I Need People who will Heal Me. They cannot help you if they don’t know what’s going on inside of you.
For some people, I’m going to keep everything I do and say out in the open. You need a few people who really know. Things like your computer browsing, your spending habits, your thought life, your temptations. It’s really the only way you’re going to get over habitual sin. If you confess to God, God will forgive you. But James 5:16 says,
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. God will forgive you, but confession to a person or group of people, that’s when you are going to be protected and where you to see you find healing.
6. I Need People who Can Help Me See my Blind Spots
Just as when we are driving we have blind spots, as we live life we have things we cannot see about ourselves. It’s like this: “I didn’t know I acted that way, but you know I acted that way.” I didn’t know I had spinach in my teeth, but you sure can see it!
We have that exposed place. Here we are just smiling away and we’ve got that big nasty piece of spinach between our teeth. And friends don’t let friends keep that in their teeth! It’s like, “Here’s mirror/toothpick” or “You missed a belt loop!” Recently my dad wore two different colored boots out, and no one told him. He wondered why people were giggling until my brother pointed it out!
At a service at our church when we were still meeting at the school one of the worship leaders got up to start the praise and worship but his fly was down, another member jumped ran to front of the stage and said to the audience, “Hey everyone, why don’t you turn and say hello to someone next to you and greet.” You think we do that because we want you to be nice! We are usually fixing things! Problem taken care of. They were a growth group at that moment!
And here’s the point: We’ve all got blind spots and everybody will see them unless we entrust a few people who love us to let us know what they are.
7. I Need Somebody Who’s Going to be Honest with Me. I need somebody to know if I’m not treating my wife the way I should and tell me. I need someone who is going to tell me, “You know what? Your attitude really stinks. You are being hurtful. Did you know that?
I just hope that you have someone that you’ve allowed to be honest with you because we all need it. Look what the Bible says about this in Proverbs 27:6;
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
So, the Bible says that the good guy, the friend says “Hey bro, we’ve got some things we need to work on here.” It’s your enemy that’s kisses you saying, “Oh, you’re wonderful, you’re just the best!” No, we need people who can really be honest with us and help us with our blind spots
8. I Need to Know My Hidden Potential
Only God knows our true potential. If you think “If my potential can only be realized by God, how does a Growth Group help?”
Here’s how: Because in God’s system, to pulling out your best, God’s system is you connecting with another member of the Body of Christ. That’s why he calls us the Body of Christ.
We are not supposed to be body parts, we are supposed to be, hand knowing where the wrist is, the wrist knowing where the arm is, arm knowing where the shoulder is. But, it’s connection, it’s not just parts, it’s connected parts. And that’s why the Bible says:
Each part does its work and helps the other parts grow, so Christ’s whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Did you catch that? HELPS the other parts grow. I need help growing and you do too!
I’ve shared before that I’m not a very affectionate person a “huggy” type of person, but Laurie Kibel and Brian Shanklin have helped me grow in that area of affection! Bonnie Bennetsen and Laura Campbell have helped me be more prepared and plan ahead, and the list could go on.
9. I Need People who will Grow Me. What area do you need to grow in? In love? In parenting? In being a better spouse? In caring for people? You won’t do it alone! You’ve got potential! But you need to get in a group to draw it out!
That happens when we connect to the Body of Christ.
Simply put, your life can be changed powerfully just by attending this church. Jesus can touch you but you need more than that. We recognize here at The Ridge, that we need to be a large church making a difference around the world; we know that. We need to be making a difference in people’s lives, and it takes something big to pull that off, but the big church needs to become small because we need more than that. You need a place where you’re known, they’re glad you came, they can help you, protect you, be honest with you and grow you.
Let’s look at this final reason. , I think it’s challenging but worth achieving:
10 . I Need People Who Will Stand With Me No Matter What
There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Have you ever had those so called “friends” who destroy you? Someone who say’s they are your friend but stabs you in back? Someone that claimed to be close and connected to you but then turned on you. I have and the betrayal is not fun. The type of relationship I’m talking will not be built overnight. Or for that matter in one or two semesters in a Growth Group. But over time, I have seen relationships build from a Group where the connection is as close as any family. If you need something, they will be there, period. If you make a mistake, they are with you no matter what. Families can be close, brothers can be close. Who will stick closer? A “real” friend: forged by faith in Christ and love for Christ and each other, it takes being together, serving together, giving together and most importantly time. Some would call this an intimate or trusted friend. It won’t be everybody, but it can be a few people.
I want to challenge you with everything in me to consider getting in a Growth Group. Just to take the plunge of getting in some meaningful relationships.
How do you sign up? You can sign up today online. Its what we call a one step sign up.
You click your group, fill out the short form, click and BOOM! You’re signed up! Its that easy and then…. Be prepared to grow spiritually. Be ready to build relationships and be known, be cared for and make a difference!