As the final installment on this post series of fostering and establishing Christian Community within the revitalization or replant setting I want to talk about the desired end effect of Christian Community. Once Christian Community is valued and modeled through the leadership and church as a whole, I believe it will spill out into a richer love for our neighbors and more importantly an avenue by which to express that love.
The principle of the upside down economic is at play here. Within Christianity we benefit when we serve. It doesn’t make ‘worldly’ sense but it is true none the less. We get when we give. We are loved when we love. We experience forgiveness fully when we forgive. This same axiom is true in community. We are most in community when we offer community to others.
We would expect the exclusivity of our faith to be the true source of our acceptance. We feel that because we are special or chosen or in, that we will feel accomplished or fulfilled. The reverse is true. We experience fulfillment when what we have been given freely (acceptance, love, faithfulness, compassion) is given away freely to others, especially others whom we would assume do not deserve it.
As we experience Christian Community in our church family we will see;
- Others welcomed into those pockets of faith easily and readily. You will notice the outsider and stranger coming in through the natural front door of the small group more so than the larger worship gathering. This is because the church member knows that there, their friend will be accepted and loved and encouraged. They feel comfortable inviting them to the meals, bowling games and park walks as well as the weekly BIble study or sermon discussion.
- A synergy in outward focused compassion. In the smaller setting of Christian Community individuals are free to share what God is laying on their heart and what the Holy Spirit is empowering them to do. The passion is contagious. The small group then rallies around causes they have ownership in. These ‘missions’ are not something that the formal church leadership is aware of or passionate about. However, even without that, the group finds pleasure in working together to share what they have found in Christ, the church and each other.
- The Gospel with flesh and bones. One of the more impressive embodiments of the Gospel is the unity that is found when a group of diverse people find a bond that makes no sense. Ordinarily the people who comprise a Christ Centered diverse Small Group would not be friends, they would not trust their kids to the other, they would not share the challenged of their marriages with the others. However in Christ, they do. The only reason being that the Gospel transforms our social norms and fears into something of strength and beauty. This is what world that is obsessed with building walls finds so attractive.
Ultimately Christian Community flows from the compassion and acceptance we find in Jesus, that never stops in the church community, it is supposed to flow outward and is most powerful when it does.
Published August 4, 2016