I can quite imagine the scene in a few months-time – one sunny summer’s afternoon – as Bob (not his real name) is in the garden next door filling his wheelbarrow with freshly-pulled spuds (‘Cor, I got some whoppers ‘ere!’ – his cheery Devonshire accent drifting over the fence), weighing his prize marrow (‘Nearly broke the scales that did!’), and offering me a couple of crates of his succulent strawberries (‘I just got no room left in the fridge!’)… while, on my side of the fence, I’m throwing my pitiful looking carrots straight onto the compost heap (hoping that Bob’s not looking), discovering that blight has once again ravaged my tomato crop, and cutting up into six pieces the one small raspberry I’ve successfully grown so that whole family can have a taste of the season’s harvest.
You get the picture.
Here’s what Bob knows: Set the right environment for your fruit and veg and they will thrive. Give them the sunlight, warmth, water and nutrients that they need and they’re going to do well.
And just as gardeners want their gardens to thrive, God wants us to thrive.
We see a picture of it in the first psalm,
’They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do’ (Psalm 1:3)
God wants us to thrive, to be healthy, growing followers of Christ. There are many things that will help us to thrive as Christians, but here’s a key one that we’re going to be focusing in on during our teaching in February: being a part of a House Group.
House groups help us to thrive because they are a fantastic place to make meaningful and lasting friendships. And friendships are important. God created us for community, to be with one another, to encourage and support one another, to share together in the difficult times as well as in the happy ones. In House Groups we have a safe space to be ourselves, to be real, open and honest; to care and to be cared for, to love and to be loved.
House Groups also help us to thrive because they are a fantastic place to grow in faith. As we study the Bible together, share testimonies, ask questions, worship and pray together, we get to know God in a deeper way and are strengthened and encouraged in our Christian walk.
House Groups help us to thrive because they give us a chance to participate and to get involved… to help, to serve, to host, to lead, to pray for others, and just to be ourselves! House Groups provide a safe context for us to use the gifts that God has given us and to be a blessing to others as we do so.
Here’s what some people have said about House Groups:
"I have gained a lot from being part of the group, making a contribution, the social events and the Bible studies” " Apart from everything we have learnt together, so many friendships have been formed as well as some deeper ties which are of great and lasting value..." "We have been gaining a great deal from the studies... it is proving a wonderful opportunity... we are gaining so much from doing this."
So, if you are not already part of a house group, we’d love to encourage you to consider joining one! Our groups meet at various times of the week in different locations throughout Epsom. You’d be very welcome to try one or two groups out to get an idea of which one feels right for you. If you’d like to know more, you can:
God wants us to thrive, to be healthy and to grow in our relationship with Him. House groups can really help us to do that. If you’re interested in joining one, please do let us know how we can support you.