As many of you know, this past Sunday I shared with everyone how I sometimes struggle with times of depression. It felt weird sharing this with the whole church, when its something I had never shared in any great detail with my men’s group. Our men’s group meets weekly on an early weekday morning at a local eating establishment (I’m being nondescript so folks won’t show up with a hidden camera and microphone).
We’ve been meeting for a good while now, and although there is a lot of great discussion and sharing of prayer requests and even some accountability, we’ve discovered that we’re missing something. We can share some superficial prayer requests, and we can have a theological discussion about things we’ve been reading about in God’s Word throughout the week, and we can even do some moralistic accountability (Did you read your Bible? Did you pray with your wife? Did you lust this week? etc.)…we can do all that and still end up with an atmosphere where guys (like me) can hide and never really share things with which they are struggling. I proved to myself, and the rest of the guys that I am able to stay disconnected and isolated even in that kind of men’s group….and again, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has that kind of “skill”.
I’m convinced that what we’ve been having in our men’s group is not what we need. It’s definitely part of what we need, but we’ve recognized that something is missing. What’s missing is the impetus to fight against the lies and deception that Satan, our culture, and our flesh are all telling us to believe, and to fight against those lies with the truth of the gospel. As sinners saved by grace who still struggle with our flesh (that’s you too by the way), we need gospel transformation, but transformation doesn’t come without a fight.
Jonathan Dodson, in his book, “Fight Clubs: Gospel Centered Discipleship”, says,
Disciples of Jesus are called to fight, but not in physical or virtual combat. We are called to fight a fight of faith for what is true and against what is false. The Bible calls us to a fight of faith, a spiritual war that contends for the transforming power and truth of the Gospel. It is a fight to behold an image – the image of the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ. It is a fight to behold and become like Jesus, not in our own strength but in the power of the Holy Spirit. This fight centers us on the gospel, not on our own fighting and lack of fighting, while cheering a fight nonetheless. We are cheered on by focusing on the infinite merits of the gospel, which compel us to fight. Gospel-centered discipleship equips us to fight for the image and glory of Jesus!
The question then becomes, “How do we fight this fight in the context of community?” Aside from throwing biscuits at one another at the BK lounge (OK, now you know), how can our men’s group incorporate this concept of fighting for gospel transformation in and through one another? How can your BASE Group achieve this level of gospel-focus, intentionality, and effectiveness? I’ll be honest…..I don’t know. But, at least the guys in my group are committed to walking down that road and engaging with one another out of genuine love for one another and for the glory of God, in order to see gospel transformation really happen in our lives.
To help us on this journey, we’re turning to Dodson’s book that I quoted from above. I read “Fight Clubs” as an e-book before it was ever published, and it transformed the way I think about Biblical community. If you want a copy, please let me know….I’m ordering a ton of them, but I don’t want to order too few. It’s a short read (55 pages), and will give you both a Christ-centered motivation for implementing something like this in your BASE group or network, as well as some practical advice for how to proceed.
I think I will reserve the right to return to this subject in future posts as I go through this book with our group. Knowing how far most of us are from this kind of intentional Biblical community….and knowing how badly we need it, I think there will be lots of stuff that we’ll all benefit from chewing on.