Sermon Title: How to Grow a Loving Church
Text: Romans 12:9-16
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Brief summary (what’s the point of this text/sermon?):
A study of 39 churches was done once to determine why some churches grow and some don’t. The conclusion? Growing churches have an attitude of love toward one another and toward those outside the church.
Dale’s question in this sermon was: How do we grow a loving church? He looked at Romans 12 and made these 8 points:
- Genuinely love one another (12:9).
- Love one another with phileo (brotherly love, affection) (12:10).
- Be contagious with your enthusiasm (12:11).
- Be positive, prayerful, and hopeful (12:12).
- Open your hearts and homes to others (12:13).
- Don’t speak evil of a brother or sister (12:14).
- Be sympathetic to others’ feelings (12:15).
- Avoid pride and partiality (12:16).
How do I live out the implications of this passage? (Discussion starters to help with applying the sermon to our lives)
- Almost every congregation believes they’re loving and friendly, but obviously, all aren’t. How can we self-evaluate to determine how we really project ourselves to visitors and newcomers? (Hint: Dale discussed one way in the Saturday morning roundtable discussion)
- Have you ever been out of town on vacation or business and visited a church that did not seem to be very friendly or loving? What was it like? What made you feel unwelcome?
- Dale’s first point was that we should genuinely love one another. How do we do that? How can Paul command us to love one another? Doesn’t love just happen when you have common interests, etc.?
- In Dale’s second point, he said he’s heard that God wants us to love one another but not necessarily like one another (agape vs philia). He disagrees with that. What do you think, and why?
- Dale’s third point is about enthusiasm. How can we show enthusiasm for what God is doing in the midst of our church family? How do we make that contagious?
- Dale’s fifth point is that we should open our hearts and homes to one another. Brothers Keepers is one ministry that helps us do that. Have you felt like you’ve gotten to know people better because of being in homes together? Why does fellowship outside of this building encourage closer relationships?
- Dale’s sixth point is that we should never speak evil of a brother or sister. Yet most churches violate that principle sometimes, don’t they? How does that contribute to a spirit of disunity? Instead of speaking badly about one another, what should we do?
- Dale’s seventh point is that we should be sympathetic to one another’s feelings (“rejoice with those who rejoice, weep . . .”). We can only do that when we know what is going on in people’s lives—when something good or bad has happened. Discuss the importance of churches being close-knit and aware of our triumphs and struggles.
Bonus questions (from other lessons during the meeting):
- Dale’s discussion of window events and door events was interesting (in his message on Saturday night). Dale suggested that people in the community need several window events (events where they can get a glimpse into the church—what it’s like, what the people are like, etc.) before they are open to a door event (an event where they are invited to do a Bible study, make some sort of commitment, etc.). What did you think about this illustration?
- In Dale’s Sunday morning class he discussed the seven “O”s of Spring Meadows. If you have time in class, discussing some of them might be helpful:
- One book (the Bible);
- Oneness (unity);
- Openness (few secrets);
- Outreach (everything we do needs to lead toward helping people become followers of Jesus);
- Outcome-oriented (everything the church does needs to be evaluated; if it isn’t working, stop doing it);
- Ownership (use “we” and “our” language, not “they” and “them” when referring to what our congregation is doing);
- Opportunities for service (give people many opportunities to serve).