Session 6: Love God’s Church


Read this before your meet-up. It will give you some great background information to help make the most of your time together.

Jesus loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus has promised to build the church (Matthew 16:18). Jesus is always with the church (Matthew 18:20, Revelation 1:13). The church is so close to Jesus that it’s described throughout the New Testament as his body (1 Corinthians 12, Colossians 1:24) and he purchased the church with his blood (Acts 20:28). Jesus cares a lot about the church, so living as his followers means that we must care a lot about the church too.

The church is not just an event that Jesus attends (although he is present when we gather). The church is not just an organization that Jesus leads (although he is its head). The church is a family, the people of God, purchased with Jesus’ own blood (See Ephesians 2:13–22).

To love the church like Jesus does, we must love God’s design for the church. “Church” isn’t something that pastors have pragmatically invented, it’s been birthed and built by God himself. The New Testament describes the church as the people of God, who have become his adopted sons by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and his saving work. This family of God includes believers all over the world and outside of the world (those who have already died and are present with Christ in heaven). This universal church finds expression in local congregations, which are led by elders (also called pastors, bishops; see 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, Acts 20:17–35), served by deacons and deaconesses (1 Timothy 3, Romans 16:1–2), and governed by the congregation (1 Corinthians 5, 2 Corinthians 2:6). Local churches gather weekly (1 Corinthians 16:2, Hebrews 10:23–25) to hear the preaching of the Word, encourage one another, and practice the ordinances. The church practices two ordinances (baptism, Romans 6:3–4; the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:17–26), church discipline (Matthew 18:15–35; 1 Corinthians 5), and take part in missions (Matthew 28:16–20, Romans 15:20–24) and evangelism (1 Corinthians 14:23–25). These are not just cultural expressions of Christianity — this is God’s design for the church, created in God’s wisdom, and revealed in God’s word for our good. We must learn to cherish this wonderful design.

To love the church like Jesus does, we must love God’s church. It’s not enough to have an accurate definition of “church,” we have to actually love the church that God has placed us in. Since the church is a family, we are all brothers and sisters and have responsibilities to one another. We must actively serve one another, meeting one another’s needs (Galatians 6:2, 1 Corinthians 11:33, 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 1 Peter 4:8). When wronged, we must be quick to forgive one another (Mark 9:50, Romans 12:16, Galatians 5:15). When another is weak, sinful, or discouraged, we must teach one another (Romans 15:13, Colossians 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:24). We guard the unity of the church and refuse to complain or speak ill of one another (Romans 12:10, Galatians 5:26, Colossians 3:13, James 4:11, James 5:9). May God help us learn to love the church and, to say with the Psalmist, “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” (Psalm 16:3).

Seeing the Kindness of God

The center of the Christian worldview is the kindness and mercy of God, which is seen supremely in the work of Christ (Exodus 34:6–7, 1 Corinthians 2:2), so every session will include a reminder of how this topic points us to God’s unfailing kindness.

God has not left you alone. You were an orphan, and now you are a son, purely by grace. And God has not only brought you into relationship with himself, but with his entire family.

Reflection Questions
Answer these before your meet-up.
  1. What is the church?
  2. How can you know that Jesus loves the church?
  3. Did anything surprise you about God’s design for the church? Do you have any doubts or questions about God’s design for the church?
  4. How have you received love from God’s church?
  5. How is God leading you to love his church more?

Meet-Up Guide

review your action step
From your last meetup
  1. What non-Christian are you discipling (or hope to disciple)? How is it going?
  2. How did you do in creating new prayer habits?
  3. How have you seen your prayer life deepen as a result of these new habits?
review the pre-reading
Answer these questions
  1. What is the church?
  2. What does it mean for Jesus to love the church?
  3. How has God blessed you as you have loved the church?
  4. What questions do you have about God’s design for the church?
hebrews 10:19-29

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

study questions
Answer these questions in your meet-up
  • What are “the holy places” and why are we able to enter them?
  • Read Hebrews 9:1–10 and Isaiah 6:1–7. What do these passages teach us about entering the holy places?
  • Look for all of the commands in this passage (Hint: look for the phrase “Let us”). Draw a star next to each command and re-phrase it in your own words.
  • What is the goal of gathering together?
  • What happens to those who go on sinning? How does the church gathering help prevent this?
application questions
Answer these questions in your meet-up
  • Do you have a habit of “neglecting the gathering?” Why or why not?
  • What does it mean to “stir up one another to love and good works” (v. 24)? 
  • How can you “stir up” our church in this way?
  • Why is God’s Word a powerful tool for stirring up others?
  • Do you feel confident to share God’s Word with other Christians now?
  • How could you be better equipped to share God’s Word in the future?
Create an action step
Choose three of the following to do throughout the next month:
  • Gather with the church every Sunday.
  • At the church’s regular gathering, intentionally have at least one conversation each week with someone in the church you don’t know very well.
  • Invite someone in the church that you don’t know very well to spend time with you outside of the church’s regular activities.
  • Are there any regular habits, chores, or activities you can do with another Christian (e.g., grocery shopping, working out, cooking, eating, running errands)? Invite someone in our church to do these things with you.
action step:

Throughout the next month, I will _______________________.

(Remember, be specific! List out some particular people you want to engage or spend time with.)

Pray together
Pray together to close the meeting

Thank God for his wonderful design for the church and pray he would strengthen you to love and serve our church.