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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?

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Ordinary Togetherness

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By: Dustin Walker

Recently I’ve read two different books that brought up the same phrase:

Radical Individualism.

Radical Individualism is essentially the belief that an individual’s needs take precedence over the needs of the group. This is a worldview that most of us in America, whether we know it or not, tend to practice.

We make choices regarding education, career, spouse, where we will live, how we spend/save our money, etc. all based on what we believe is best for me.

I’m guilty of this, and I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’ve lived this way for pretty much my entire life. I’m pretty sure you are guilty of this too.

Yet, when I read my favorite books from the New Testament, especially Ephesians, I read about something that seems foreign but beautiful.

That’s where I start to understand that the pronouns are in the plural. Each ‘you’ I read in Ephesians isn’t talking about me. It is a ‘y’all’ that is talking to me in a group, in a community.

One could describe the community we read about in Ephesians and elsewhere as Ordinary Togetherness. What made it remarkable was the way in which the gospel motivated this kind of community and family-like behavior of people so different from one another.

I read things like:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)

Rather than this being all about me being a piece of God’s craftsmanship, I am part of the overall craftsmanship God has created in the church. The good works he has for me are embedded in the good works he has for the church.

For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. (Eph. 2:14)

This verse is not about my personal salvation alone. It is not just about me on the outside of a wall looking in. It is about us being separated collectively from one another. But these boundaries have now been destroyed in Christ, and we have freedom together in Him.

In him, the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (Eph. 2:21)

I am not personally a holy temple that I take care of with leafy green vegetables and high-intensity workouts. Rather, I’m a part of this holy temple whose spiritual health is mutually connected with others so that we might give praise to God through Jesus Christ.

Community groups are one rhythm we practice to call each other out of our radical individualism. But these groups are to serve as catalysts to ordinary togetherness, not as an artificial, programmatic substitute for it. What’s required then is for us to practice this community and togetherness in the average, everyday stuff of life. Here are some ways we can do just that.

Dinner

Eat dinner with other people. This means if you’re single you’ll need to invite others over for dinner or essentially invite yourself over to eat dinner with someone else. And if you’re married and/or have kids, make a point to share your dinner table with others on a regular basis.

Think of the loneliness that would be abated if we simple did this one thing. Not to mention, it would break down some of the dividing walls between single individuals, college students, and families within our church family and even give our children a vision for what it will look like to follow Christ when they become college students and single working professionals.

Errands

What are some errands you need to do in the next week or even month? Why not involve others in that process? Grocery store shopping, car registration renewal, take your dog to the vet or planning for a birthday party. The possibilities here are endless.

Projects

What is a project that you’re working on right now or will be in the coming weeks? Whether it is fixing a leaky pipe, painting a room, having a yard sale, or moving to a new house or apartment, these are great opportunities to get help, to teach, and to care for one another.

For us to enjoy the wonderful benefits of the radical togetherness that Ephesians speaks to we must make intentional choices to reject our radical individualism. It will mean we must think about how to include others as Christ has included us. But that is kind of the whole point.

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