This following post is adapted from Ps Pat Antcliff's message on Sun 21st July, at the C3 Oxford Falls 10am service. Watch the message here.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
We are not designed to achieve our purpose as a secret agent, a lone ranger or “my way”. We are designed to achieve our purpose in connection with others, as part of the church. Although we live in a time of high technological connection our world seems more relationally disconnected than ever. Loneliness is so vast a problem, governments have set up departments to deal with the issue.
The House of God is a place of community which provides connection not only to Jesus but to others. We find our process of maturing in Christ fueled not only by our relationship to God but our relationships to others. We need the insights of other people to let us know how we can grow and become more Christ-like. This is what the above passage in Hebrews is talking about when it says “spur one another on”. Being a part of a church means being in trusting relationships with those who will spur you on to love and good deeds. Sometimes this could mean a simple compliment or other times helping you to confront areas in your life that need improvement or adjustment.
The second point Ps Pat made about this passage in Hebrews is that we are to keep meeting together. If you’ve been a part of a church for a long time, you may start to forget the significance of meeting together often. However, we can be reminded when we think back on people who have lead us from our early days as a Christian till now how significant time together at church is. It is because of these relationships that church becomes more than a building but a place of belonging. We also have the opportunity to help others find this same feeling of belonging by inviting them to the connect group we lead or attend.
The Church as Community
In Acts 2:46-47 we see the pattern of the early church. They gathered together in temple courts to pray, to worship, to proclaim the Word and give people an opportunity to meet Jesus. They also gathered in each other's homes to discuss the Word and encourage each other. We follow this pattern by gathering together at church and in connect group to be filled with the Holy Spirit and then scatter to our families, friends and workplaces to be a light for others.
Fellowship (Koinonia): The Glue of Christian Community
Koinonia is a Greek word used in the New Testament verses which translates as fellowship. Acts 2:42 uses this word to describe the larger and a smaller settings that the Christians were devoted or “steadfastly attentive” to. Communion by intimate participation builds trust, relationships and knowledge of each other.
A Connect Group is a safe space to ask questions and get support for the tough things in life.
Things that happen in a connect group:
- Relationship/sense of community
- The word
- Accountability for areas where we need to grow
- Exercise of gifts
- Development of leadership & ministry.
When someone in your connect group is having a hard time we don’t need to look to a church department to provide assistance. Instead we can see it as an opportunity to support them by bringing food and praying for them. Just like family is not something we attend but something we are committed to. Our Church family provides responsibilities and the opportunity for deep relationships. (Psalm 68:6).
The greatest example of living in constant community is our creator God through the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are too designed for community to keep us on track to our purpose and to live a rich life. Therefore the enemy often uses people’s isolation to lead them away from their destiny. As Psalm 92 indicates we flourish and bear fruit by putting our roots down deep (Psalm 92:12-14). In the context of relationships this means not letting past hurts and pain can prevent us from “trimming our roots”. This looks like making vows in our heart never to trust others again. If we let these wounds remain we will look like a bonsai in a pot plant rather than tall Cedar of Lebanon. It may feel safe but we are being held back from all the potential that is within us. When we allow ourselves to trust and build roots in our relationships there’s no end to what God can accomplish through us.
Have a look at our Connect Directory to see all the Connect Groups we have available.