Thinking about starting up a small group? Got one going and wondering what your next topic to focus on will be? Got some young leaders you want to disciple concerning the practical outworking of Church life? Got a college Bible Study you’re sponsoring and need fresh material? Look no further! I have just what you need.
Each Friday I hope to review a book, or movie or other media, some old and some new. Todays’ review is of book that was released in 1973. That’s almost 40 years ago. It’s called “Building Up One Another” by Gene A Getz.
The book’s a classic. How do I know? Well you can get a brand new copy online at various sites. At Christian Books in paperback for $9.99, at Amazon for $10.39 and at Barnes and Noble as a Nook Book for $10.52 (as of 8/15/2012).
The original that I have still in my possession was put out by Victor Books did not have the Group Study Guide. It cost $2.25 back in 1980! I believe that someone actually posted the book in entirety on their site after this edition went out of print. It’s for free so you might want to google it.
The beauty in this book is its simplicity and brevity. The original sans study guide was a mere 120 pages (with big print!) but it is rich in practical application, good Church theology and continues to be relevant in today’s society where people ask “Do I need to belong or even go to a Church to be a Christian?”
As the title says this book is all about the “one anothers”. The New Testament is filled with exhortations to “server one another”, “love one another”, “forgive one another”, be kind to one another” etc.. In all there are 58 “one anothers” in the epistles.
I remember going through this book the very first time. My wife Nora and myself were part of a newly started Church and a non-negotiable foundation stone of it was everyone’s participation in a small group. We called them “home groups”. The justification? The “one anothers”! You could not live out Christianity in a vacuum. So the small groups were meant to facilitate relationships.
A slogan that was prominent back then was “The Church is not a series of meetings but it’s relationships!” The first time I heard that was from Larry Tomczak, a man with a vision for what was termed “New Testament Christianity”. Years ago we thought the American Church had become too “institutionalized” and needed to be brought back to its New Testament roots especially in the area of relationships.
We saw that sections of scripture like Acts 2:42 and Acts 2:46 were alive with fellowship, praying together, sharing meals and meeting from house to house. All about relationships and community.
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
So we met at the Benny & Sheree’s home (the founding pastor and his wife) in those early days of the Church and opened up this book each week to study, discuss, pray and learn how to apply the truths found there and in the Bible.
The book’s layout made it easy. 12 chapters (from the original)
1 Members of One Another 7
2 Devoted to One Another 20
3 Honor One Another 29
4 Be of the Same Mind with One Another 36
5 Accept One Another 43
6 Admonish One Another 51
7 Greet One Another 60
8 Serve One Another 68
9 Bear One Another’s Burdens 78
10 Bearing with One Another 91
11 Submit to One Another 99
12 Encourage One Another 110
You quickly learn that you can’t obey these commands in a vacuum. And wandering from church to church you could do some of these. Not going at all negated 95% of the realities that the book pointed us to, that God intended us to experience.
These commands are not just legalistic exhortations to perform robotic duties. God’s blessing of joy, peace and love flow from the “one anothers” done in grace and faith.
I would have to say that the small group, the early focus on relationships and this little book spoiled me for a rich Church life. For many, many years the fruit of this foundation of “one anothers” laid in my life abounded. It became the DNA of this young Church and to this day 40 years later it is still bearing fruit.
After that we held our own small groups. Through them relationships were established that survive the test of time. Even if you have not seen a person from your group for years the moment you meet up a special joy and kinship rises up within.
Few churches I have attended and been a member of since have had such a committment to the “one anothers”. But I know it can happen again though. That’s because its God’s Word and His plan for His Church!
So do your group a favor and pick up this book. You might want to start it off as a personal devotional if it’s not time for your group to do it. You will benefit greatly. And others will be blessed as you “Build Up One Another!”