Humans were created for community. Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” God is holding holy counsel with himself. The Trinity is at work here. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who from eternity past have been in perfect union and community with each other now decide to create man in their image. Every human ever is an image bearer of almighty God, whether they know it or not. God’s Law is written on our hearts, we yearn for spiritual purpose, and we want to have relationship and community with others.
The church is made up of people who have an incredible bond. This bond is actually the strongest bond any human can have. This bond is based on the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. This Gospel message creates a new community of people who live together as the church. We have been brought into the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). Once we are part of the family of God, we are part of an incredible community.
I have talked with many Christians who don’t understand the gift of community that the Lord has given them in the church. They believe it is enough for them to slip in on a Sunday morning and head on out the door. I am not saying this is the worst thing in the world, church is always good, but I am saying that you are missing out on the incredible gift of community the Lord has given you in the local church.
One way we want to build community is through our Community Groups. These Community Groups meet weekly and are there to encourage and build up the saints at Redeemer. We believe that they are the backbone of every other ministry at Redeemer, from our Sunday morning gathering to our service to our neighbors. So, why are Community Groups so important?
Service happens within the church and outside to the world around us. We are called to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13). The larger a church grows the more difficult it is for everyone to know the different needs that the congregation faces. Oftentimes people slip through the cracks, leaving them feeling alone and unloved. Many well-meaning church members are saddened that they did not know the specific needs that their brothers and sisters were facing and because of that were not able to help. Being a part of a community group helps others know what ways they can help in times of need.
We also serve outside of the church. Once again, the larger a church gets the more difficult it is to mobilize to serve outside the church doors (or asphalt). A Community Group is a perfect way for members to serve together outside of church. These groups actually grow in community as they serve together. I have bonded with brothers and sisters more over serving together than through sitting in a study together.
Accountability and Encouragement
All of us need accountability. It is easy to get lost in a crowd, but you can’t do that in a Community Group. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every single one of your deepest sins and fears are revealed, it simply means that you are being encouraged to live out your faith week in and week out. Hebrews 10:24 says that we are to spur one another on towards love and good works. I need that nudge, I need to be encouraged to stay on the path, I need to be held accountable, we all do.
Most of the time Community Groups meet in people’s homes. For many it is less intimidating to show up at someone’s home for a Bible study and meal rather than to a church on Sunday morning. A community group allows for members to invite their friends and let them get a glimpse of what Christian fellowship looks like while learning about Jesus. John 13:35 says that people will know that we are his disciples by our love for one another. What better way to get people to see this than through Community Groups?
Prayer is a beautiful gift that the Lord has given us. It allows us to talk to our creator God while being still and listening. Even when we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit within us intercedes on our behalf with groanings we don’t understand (Romans 8:26).
A Community Group helps us grow in the area of prayer. Sometimes, it is good for us to listen to others pray so that we can know how to pray. We don’t necessarily repeat the same words or phrases, but we can learn the correct posture and attitude. Another way Community Groups help our prayer life is that as we are involved in each other’s lives, we will want to pray for our brothers and sisters. As we learn of needs and understand others in our group, we will know how to pray for each other. We are called to pray for each other often in the Bible (James 5:16). A Community Group is a good avenue for us to obey God’s Word.
There are a million and a half reasons why I love Jesus. One of the biggest reasons is that he saw things with perspective. He was able to look at people and love them (Mark 10:21). He understood where people were coming from like Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), the woman at the well (John 4), and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).
We need to be able to look at things through the eyes of other people. When we do that will we be able to see how the Gospel meets them at their greatest needs. Oftentimes, we write people off because they are different. The Gospel though brings people together from all walks of life. There is unity in diversity. A Community Group allows us to see other people’s perspectives and shows how the one truth unites us all.
I grew up Baptist, so I love a good fellowship meal as much as the next person. I miss the days of the potluck, everyone bringing your own dish for the church to share. I say bring those back. Those were good times because it offered so many great opportunities to get to know other people in a relaxed atmosphere. Guards are down, just a conversation. A Community Group allows space for this to happen.
Fellowship of course is a lot more than a meal. Christian fellowship is sharing in something deeply with someone else. It is walking with each other down the road of a disciple. True fellowship takes time to develop yet is available right away because of the Spirit. It is a beautiful thing. Some of the greatest times of fellowship that I have experienced with brothers and sisters in Christ happened through Community Groups. You grow with each other as you share your lives with Jesus living with the same purpose (Acts 2:42-47).
The Christian life is one of continual maturity. You will never get to the point where you have outgrown your faith or come to complete maturity this side of Heaven. This is a good thing. Part of being a disciple is continuing to grow and learn and change. We are all being changed from one degree of glory to another after all (2 Corinthians 3:18). A Community Group gives space for the church to develop leaders.
Our hope at Redeemer is that our groups birth new groups. If they are missionally minded and involved in outreach and service, that is what will happen. This will give more opportunity for leaders to emerge, simply out of necessity. A strong Community Group will work to that end by giving opportunity for others to lead.
Let’s face it. We live in a world where commitment matters less and less. The Christian life though is one of commitment. It is about finishing the race, about perseverance, about counting the cost and following through. All of this hinges not on us, but on the finished work or Jesus. Because Jesus finished his race, we can finish ours (Hebrews 12:1-2). A Community Group helps us grow in commitment. As we walk with other believers’ week in and week out, we are able to see that God-honoring, Christ-centered commitment lived out. In a world that is afraid of commitment, a Community Group helps us to see the benefits of stepping out in faith.
Have you joined a Community Group at Redeemer? If you haven’t, learn about all of the options. I promise you, if you commit to one of these awesome groups, God will work for your good and his glory through it.