There is something about food that brings people together. Special family recipes often
accompany celebrations, holidays, and family gatherings. My grandmother made homemade egg noodles, which were a staple at every family gathering. In fact, there is rarely a time when I think about my grandmother that I don't think about her noodles. People can often find common ground and harmony when they break bread together. Food represents comfort, hospitality, and community. I love that Dr. Luke, the author of Acts, prioritizes food when describing the first church. He writes, “And they [Jesus’s followers post ascension] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42, ESV). The breaking of bread in this passage is in reference to the Lord’s supper. When the early church broke bread together, they were remembering Jesus and the salvation he brought through his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. Sharing the Lord’s supper was a conduit for remembering. Obviously, you don’t need food when gathering with friends or family, and the food shared at RGroups is not the Lord’s supper. But, a meal shared does make time together sweeter, more substantial, and more purposeful. It’s one reason why food is shared when we gather for RGroups. Restoration Church wants time spent within RGroups to be substantial, sweet and purposeful.
The mission of RGroups is to consistently provide gatherings that encourage and equip participants to grow in their love for God and their neighbor. Besides sharing food, we model the RGroup time after the patterns and rhythms we witness in the first church as described in Acts 2. Fellowship, teaching, and prayer are critical elements of the weekly group time. Fellowship means building authentic relationships and knowing about the everyday lives of the people in your group. Healthy relationships are vital to life. In a recent post pandemic study, the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that “36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel “serious loneliness.” According to the report, there are “potentially steep costs of loneliness, including early mortality and a wide array of serious physical and emotional problems, including depression, anxiety, heart disease, substance abuse, and domestic abuse.” 1 God’s trinitarian nature, Adam and Eve, Jonathan and David, and Jesus and his apostles are just a few examples from Scripture that points to the necessity of relationships. God made us to be in relationship with him and with one another. Henri Nouwen, one of the most influential spiritual writers of our time, claims, “I have found over and over again how hard it is to be truly faithful to Jesus when I am alone. I need my brothers or sisters to pray with me, to speak with me about the spiritual task at hand, and to challenge me to stay pure in mind, heart, and body.” 2 The isolated life is not the Christian life. We need each other, and RGroups provide the setting to authentically connect with others in our faith community.
The two remaining elements of RGroup time are prayer and Scripture reading. If you've
spent time in a corporate church setting, you know that prayer and Bible reading are high
priorities in the Christian life. But why should we pray and read our Bibles? In his famed
book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster claims, “Real prayer is life creating and life
changing. [It] is the central avenue God uses to transform us. In prayer, real prayer, we
begin to think God’s thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills.” 3 Prayer conforms us into the image of Christ. Through
prayer, we shed our carnal, selfish nature and begin viewing the world through Christ's
lens, deepening our love for God and our neighbor. Similar spiritual transformation
happens with consistent Scripture reading. The Bible is God’s written words to us. Through
the biblical narrative, our eyes are opened to God and his character, and our souls are
exposed to God’s love and his nature. When we read the Bible, we begin to grasp who God
is and experience him in a personal way. Subsequently, knowing and experiencing God
opens the door to finding our place and purpose within his kingdom.
I want to encourage you to participate in your RGroups with your whole self. Break bread together, fellowship and share about your life, read the Bible together, ask questions and share your thoughts. Pray for one another and experience life in community. It is the prayer of Restoration Church that you find a faith community within your RGroup comprised of others who spur you on in your relationship with God and your love for your neighbor.
1. “Loneliness in America: How the Pandemic Has Deepened an Epidemic of Loneliness and
What We Can Do About It,” mcc.gse.harvard.edu, Harvard Graduate School of
Education, February 2021, https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/reports/loneliness-in-america.
2. Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company,1989), 58.
3. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (New York: Harper One, 2018), 33.