By Justin Rossow and Matt Hein

The date is roughly AD 33. Jesus has ascended into heaven. The Holy Spirit has descended upon the first disciples and followers of Jesus at Pentecost. The early church is rapidly expanding. And the author of Acts paints a picture of what this early church looks like.

Acts 2:42-47 reveals the early church being devoted to God’s Word, to worship, to the Lord’s Supper, to prayer, to being generous, and to being in community as they enjoyed fellowship and meals.

Of the 3,000 people added to the church on the day of Pentecost alone, many returned to their home regions carrying the gospel to their hometowns. Those who stayed continued to meet and worship in the Temple of Jerusalem.

But in both cases, we know these early disciples also gathered in smaller groups that resembled large families. (After all, when was the last time you tried to fit 3,000+ people into your dining room for dinner?)

This picture of the early church seems to say that no one made the journey of discipleship alone. Discipleship happened in the context of trusted relationships, family, and community gathered around the story of Jesus, in public worship but also in their local neighborhoods.

While this picture is not a prescription of what any given local church must look like, it does hold up important marks of the church on a discipleship journey.

We believe in the centrality of God’s Word that points us to Jesus, and the centrality of worship where God gathers us and serves us through His Word and Sacraments, even as we return our praise to Him.

We also believe that He has gathered us around these gifts of Word and Sacrament as a community that exists for more than just Sunday mornings. God desires us to have trusted discipling relationships that extend into our homes and daily lives.

Were you a part of the St. Luke family when we went through Forty Days of Purpose? Although that’s been quite awhile now, people are still talking about how much of an impact that had.

For a specific time period, the same theme was covered in worship and in groups gathered in homes during the week. Relationships were central, and the discussion around worship added depth to the Sunday experience.

Picking up on some of those same themes, we want to elevate the connection between worship and the rest of the week, and grow relationships at the same time.

During the 7-week Life on the Rope sermon series, beginning in October 2015, we want everyone at St. Luke to be in a Home Group. We want these groups to gather in local neighborhoods and to be comprised of St. Luke disciples living in close proximity of each other. We want Home Groups to share a meal, enjoy good conversation, and spend some time revisiting the theme from Sunday worship.

We believe that Home Groups will foster trusted discipling relationships that help us make the journey of discipleship together instead of alone. And we think that we will have a lot of fun together, too.

Like disciples in the early church, we want to be a people dedicated to public worship and devoted to one another as we share the daily/weekly journey of faith.

Sign up for Home Groups will begin mid-September. Watch for more information coming soon.

If you are interested in or open to hosting a Home Group of 4-6 families in your neighborhood for 7 weeks from October to mid-November, go to the Connect group “Discipling Group Leaders” and request to be added, send an e-mail to Pastor Matt, or sign up on Sunday morning at your worship site.

Training for Home Group hosts will happen at St. Luke’s U-Serve training event on Saturday, October 3, 2015 from 9 a.m. – 12 noon.