Everyone is looking for community. I have a theory that everyone goes to 'church'. As Christians, our church is the House of God, but for others it is the surf-club, the pub, the gym, or local cafe. It's wherever people find their community.
The Church is not a building or an event, but a people. The Church is the called out people of God, a holy community made up of redeemed sinners. Often the emphasis of church is on the Sunday event or the building itself and not on the community.
It can be easy for us to show up to church incognito, hide out in the back, and leave as soon as the service is over all the while remaining completely unknown. It is possible to go to church without participating in the community of the church.
The Greek word koinonia represents spiritual community. Koinonia is being in agreement with one another, being united in purpose, and serving alongside each other - based on our common love and belief in Jesus Christ. There was a “day by day” quality to the koinonia of the early Christians in the book of Acts. The church did more than gather on Sunday. New believers spent time in one another’s homes, breaking bread and sharing life.
'They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer. Everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles, All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to everyone as he had need, Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.'
Many people speak of personal relationship to describe their faith in Jesus and I am one of them, but the idea of personal relationship is inadequate if it does not also imply personal relationship with Christ's people.
In other words: love Jesus; love his followers.
Another word for relationship with others is interconnectedness which has its foundation in the very nature of God: the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit eternally subsist as one God in three persons, forever relating and loving one another. They have their own connect group! In creating us in His image God has put this communal need in the soul of every person.
Social research tells us that in the history of mankind, never have we been more connected, but never have we been more lonely. Nothing has changed culture more in our lifetime than phones. Today we live in an age of online comments, not face-to-face conversations. We live in a world of many acquaintances, but few deep relationships.
Britain has recently appointed a Minister for Loneliness due to growing isolation. Australia, inspired by the work of the UK, has formed the Australian Coalition to End Loneliness. Loneliness is a sad reality of modern life and a growing international public health concern.
Genesis 2:18 says, 'The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”'
We have been created by design to connect meaningfully with one another.
We don’t have to be married, but we do need to be in relationship – it is not good for man to be alone. It is not good for woman to be alone. God didn’t make just one human, he made two. There is nothing more basic than that.
To have community, you don’t have to be best friends with everyone in the church, but some people need to know you well, and you need to know others well too.
'Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down his friend can help him up, but pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up! Also if two lie down together, they will keep warm but how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.'
Connection and community is the essence of Christianity. Salvation is not an individual experience.
'For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.'
Ephesians 2:19-22 (emphasis added)
When you follow Jesus you become a part of his family – connected to other Christians whether you like it or not! God made us to need each other. He made us to live together as a family of faith.
Christians are human Lego. The sole purpose of Lego is for connection. It comes in every shape, size and colour – and each piece has the ability to connect with another piece. It is the way Jesus has designed us to work. We fit together and we build something great together. Lego can make amazing things – but no lego will ever be anything more than it is until it connects with another piece of lego.
If you join to someone else who is joined to God... anything is possible. We need meaningful connection. This is where Connect Groups come in! Personal growth and community happens in this context. Power is released when the church is in unity around a God given vision.
'If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.'
4 Reasons to Engage in Community:
1. Community is Encouraging
Being in community gives you the chance to be around people at different stages of their faith journey, and to bear their burdens alongside of them. Everyone has something to teach and to learn.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, '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.'
2. Community is Fun!
Community should never feel boring or forced. In fact, it should be the exact opposite.
Psalm 133:1 says, 'How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!' Before I met Jesus, I thought Christians were boring. How wrong I was! Community has a higher purpose, but it should also be enjoyable!
3. Community Attracts the Holy Spirit
The Bible says the Holy Spirit is present whenever believers gather together.
Matthew 18:20 says, 'Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.'
The early church, which made a habit of meeting together, eating together, and worshiping together had the result of the Lord adding to their number daily those who were being saved. Being in church on Sundays is definitely important. But if you want to be a Christ follower, be one every day in the context of all your communities. That’s where you’ll see ministry happen.
4. Community is Life-Giving
We’re better together than we are alone.
Romans 12:4-5 says, 'Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others.'
We need each other like a body needs each of its parts to fully function! It can be hard for some of us to commit to community, especially if we’re guarded or prefer solitude. But community is God’s desire for us and a sign of a mature faith. Because at the end of the day, when we grow in our relationships with others, we’re growing in relationship with Him!
We all need community and we all need Christ more. Join, start, open your home for Connect Group, or go to C3 College. There are so many ways you could join a community or facilitate one amongst those around you.
What area of your life does the Lord want to develop community in?