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Community On Purpose

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By Dustin Walker: 

If you were to look two years into the future of your Community Group, what would you wish to see?

I suspect we would want to see the spiritual fruit of faithfully reading scripture and praying for one another. My guess is that you would want to see deeper friendships. And perhaps you would desire a vibrant faith that is expressed in generosity; generosity to serve, to share, and to speak openly about Jesus.

However, I believe the unspoken assumption many of us have is that we will hit these marks if we just do life together with the right people.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t work out as naturally and organically as we hope for two reasons:

  • The reality of entropy
  • A lack of purpose

Here’s what I mean:

The Reality of Entropy

Entropy is defined as a gradual decline into disorder. Unfortunately, the natural spiritual gravity of every individual is downward. Guided by the strength of our willpower we can hardly rise above our tendencies toward disorder in our thoughts, our words, and relationships. And when we get people together in a group, the entropy is multiplied exponentially. We are prone to passivity, impatience, hurt feelings, jealousy, insensitivity, and malice.

Our first admission must be that we are not the right people. I need Jesus. So do you. Other people aren’t the problem. The problem starts with me. My gradual decline begins when my heart slips away from being anchored in the gospel.

Abundance of Gospel

So how do we combat the forces of entropy in our groups? Good works? Accountability? Making a big commitment? It starts by remembering the gospel. This is done by reading it in the Bible, meditating on it with your mind and heart, and continually speaking and hearing it with others. And once we’re grounded in the gospel, then we can provide the structures and rhythms of good works, accountability, and commitments.

Lack of purpose

Another enemy of fruitful growth in community is a lack of purpose. Think of your group right now (whether or not you are leading the group). Does your group have a stated purpose or set of goals you’re all striving to reach? Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” I believe that is true many times of our groups.

I wonder if the things we’re celebrating in our groups are the result of accidental success or prayerful intentionality. Only the Lord knows, but I hope it is the latter.

On Purpose

Merely stating a goal is not the point. We need to think, talk, and pray with one another to determine how we would like to see God move in and among us. Then we need to back that up with faithful words and deeds. Out of our understanding of the gospel, we should link our groups’ godly desires to a commitment and plan of action. This is so we can see spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24).

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to do this. Each group has its own personality due to the unique gifts and stories from every individual in the group. But every group goes through seasons where the purpose needs to shift to meet needs in the group. Some groups need to be reminded of the importance of evangelism and hospitality. Some require the discipline of reading scripture. Others need to develop the capable leaders in their group and send them out to plant.

My prayer for this next season of Community Group life at City Church is that we will press forward with purpose. I ask that the Lord would bring purpose and urgency to the gospel task that he’s given each of us to fulfill on our groups. And may Christ be exalted as we faithfully depend upon the strength of the Spirit to supply more than we could ask or imagine.

What do you see as you peer two years into the future for your group? What are you asking for God to do? How will you resist entropy and purpose?

Posted by Dustin Walker with
in Wisdom

Caring For Creation Is A Christian Endeavor

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By Chris Martin:

I recently received a copy of The Story of Everything by Jared Wilson. Jared’s a gifted writer, and I hope I write as well as he does when I grow up.

I was reading through The Story of Everything the other day, and I came across this passage on creation care, and I found it to be helpful:

On the one hand, some people look at creation as the be-all and end-all, and they will be incredibly surprised on that day when creation gets better and they have to miss out. But if you follow nature’s trail to nature’s Maker and worship him alone, everything else will get thrown in with it. You can have those walks on the beach. You might even be able to walk across the oceans from continent to continent. This comes from believing not what you see right now, but from believing what you hear in the words in that map called the Bible.

On the other hand, some people care too little for creation. “This world is not my home,” they say, but they’ve mistaken the sinful way of the world’s systems and the spiritual darkness at work in creation with the created world itself. The created world is our home, and it will be our home. And just because God is going to change it, to fix it, doesn’t mean it’s our job to contribute to its degradation.

Therefore, there is a way to care about creation too much and there is a way to care about creation too little. With Christ’s gospel at the center of our lives and his restoration of the broken world in view, then, we can engage in respectful, diligent creation care that gives God glory.

If he declared the world good, why would we mistreat it? It is fallen, yes, but so are our neighbors, and God has commanded us to love them. One way we might love our neighbors, in fact, is by working to care for the world we all live in. This, in a sense, “makes the world a better place” but, more importantly, it casts a vision for the day when God actually makes the world a better place. With appropriate creation care—respecting our environments, reducing wastefulness and pollution, treating the animal world humanely, etc.—we depict God’s future plans for the earth.

Still, God has a plan for everything. Not just for mankind and creation, but for what we make of it all.

A Meaningful Beauty

It’s all about the balance. We must care for creation, tending it as God tasked us in the Garden, but we must not worship it either.

The world in which we live is not merely the stage upon which the drama of our lives is performed.

I must confess: I’m not really an “outdoorsy” guy, primarily because I hate bugs and all other sorts of creepy-crawlies. But on our recent trip to Niagara Falls I was reminded of the natural beauty of the world around it and how all of it is purposed to declare the magnificence and glory of God.

If natural wonders such as Niagara Falls do not exist to give glory to God, they simply exist as a coincidental creation of a chaotic world and they are beautiful for no other reason than they look pretty to the human eye.

The beauty of the world, like the beauty of my wife or your children, is a profound beauty that includes, yet goes beyond, aesthetics that are pleasing to the human eye.

As a result, as faithful followers of Jesus, we must look at the world around us not as a springboard into eternity, but as a peek into glory. We humans are the only part of creation which bear the image of God, but all of creation shows the imagination of God.

The world in which we live is not merely the stage upon which the drama of our lives is performed. Our environment is the work of the same divine mind that created us and knows the number of hairs on our heads.

Perhaps we should think of our world less as something to be consumed and more as something to be protected.

Posted by Chris Martin with

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