Imagine a man who read the Bible for an hour a day.
Imagine he spent another hour a day memorizing scripture.
Imagine he listened to sound Christian teaching on the way to and from work.
Imagine he listened to sound Christian teaching on TV at home in the evening instead of watching sit-coms and the news.
Now, imagine he never talked to another Christian. He never went to church. He was not a part of a small group. He spent his life alone. He was never encouraged, never admonished, never corrected. He never spoke the truth in love. No one ever spoke into his life. He was never loved by another human being. He was alone.
Question: how much would he grow spiritually?
Biblical answer: not much.
We are transformed one at a time, but we are not transformed alone. We are transformed in groups. If you are not in a group that is working toward being transformed into the image of Christ, you will not be transformed. People are not transformed alone. The writer of Hebrews made this clear:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24–25 (NIV2011)
This verse is often used as an admonition to come to church. Note that this is not what it is talking about. It is not talking about sitting in straight rows and watching the same events happen on the same stage. It is talking about meetings where we encourage one another; meetings where I encourage you and you encourage me. As Andy Stanley says it, “Circles are better than rows.”
Circles encourage one another to start their day with the Bible on their lap. Circles rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Circles ask hard questions. Circles probe. Circles admonish. Circles hug. Circles love.
You can’t get there alone.