A quick perusal of church websites in the Raleigh/Garner/Cary area will offer some surprising discoveries. One word mentioned almost as much as “Jesus” is the word “community”. Even my church, Sovereign King, speaks of “Creating and Engaging Community for the Glory of Jesus Christ”. So what’s the big deal about community?
Well, Jesus promised that He would make a community out of His followers. Luke 15 is full of story after story of Jesus being a shepherd who seeks out and loves his sheep. He values them all and individually. Matthew 28 shows His command for His church to continue this gathering process by going into the world and making disciples. And the book of Acts is a testimony to the Disciples doing just that.
But it is fair to ask, “How does a community form?” An even better question might be, “How does a Christ-like community form?” Well, below are some practical tips to forming a Christ-like community. They are avenues for deepening life together.
The most important aspect of community is common time together. Community requires availability which means ultimately, we cannot be too hard for others to get in touch with. But not only do we have to be available, we also have to be willing to get together frequently. There must be plenty of time shared together regularly
As a community gathers frequently, they form common practices. True Christ-like community gathers for prayer and worship. They eat together, play together, and learn together. As this community grows in depth, personal counsel, comfort, and accountability form. A commitment to constant reconciliation and forgiveness becomes evident. Deeds of service and justice and witness are done together. This time will be both spontaneous as well as structured.
As we see from the community in Acts, the church begins to share common resources. Homes and living spaces become areas of hospitality. The group begins to share economic and talent resources. They feel a sense of responsibility to others in this shared space. For all of the above to happen, there has to be a new identification of and with a specific geographic area. A Christ-like community serves a specific people and area.
But none of these things have enduring value unless the communal time, practices, and resources reflect the grace of Jesus and are extended to people who are not yet within the community. A community that doesn’t reach out to others eventually becomes entitled and in-bred which is the opposite of our seeking shepherding Savior who calls His church to go.