The Miracle of Community
“The future of the church depends on whether it develops true community…unless we
sense that we belong to each other, with masks of , the vibrant church of today will become the powerless church of tomorrow” – Larry Crabb
“Spiritual community = the presence of conflicted relationships met by spiritual friendship, spiritual direction and characterized by the dependence upon the Spirit of God” – M.Scott Peck
How about starting with some personal remarks – when I was young in the faith, I
got a taste of spiritual community…in fact, true community is inherently spiritual.
You and I were created in the image of a God who is “eternal community”…when we
share in relationships of love, encouragement, prayer, support and challenge, we are
experiencing a glimpse of the very nature and character of our Lord. In my case,
the story of community started in earnest during my college years. There were three
young men (Steve, Russ and Jeff) who poured themselves in me as a brother, friend,
and someone with whom they shared life. For two years, those relationships gave me
hope, healing, comfort, accountability and, most important, a constant glance at
Jesus and the reality of the Kingdom. Over a period of months, that little “band of
brothers” became infectious and grew…other people wanted “in” because they saw
something that they wanted and weren’t experiencing in their own life. I’m confident
enough to call a spade a spade…they saw Jesus and saw the Kingdom of God.
To say the least, I’ve been searching for a way to quench my deep desire for
community ever since. Throughout numerous experiences, I have gotten close only to
be sidetracked by ecclesiastical agendas, congregational politics, superficiality, and a
host of other relational elements that caused community to break down. I’m tired of
empty feelings when it comes to community – it has been my dream for a long, long
time to enter anew into redemptive and Kingdom community before I reach the end
of my earthly journey. I want to take the vision of scripture for a “ride” and find any
way I can to experience the sense of awe, power, and satisfaction that comes in living
in the flow of what Jesus created for us to experience.
I promised the Lord that I would pursue that dream in every move and every
transition in life. Friends, Jesus followers were created to experience oneness with
God and each other. It is only when we enter into that oneness do we experience the
fullness of life that God intended for us. I also realize as someone who takes the
scripture seriously that we need to have the quality of community that incarnates
Jesus and gives people an opportunity to see something that can only happen because
of God. Relationships are difficult because of the essential brokenness of humanity.
That’s why Christ-followers cannot tolerate having community that is anything else
than a glimpse of the Kingdom. We need to be inviting people into an experience in
relationships that actually transcends anything that can happen without the presence
of the Holy Spirit. To have relationships like “everyone else does” does not give
witness to the lives that Jesus calls us into. I’m attaching to this email a PDF link (if you
are interested) that outlines a set of values that are non-negotiable in our belief about
community. Community is transformational. We single-mindedly pursue the unity of
love and the missional and incarnational witness of community in the context of our
lives together in Kingdom living. This little booklet is divided up into three sections:
The Theology of Community – it is an overview of theological insights gleaned from
scripture and historical reflection. Secondly, the Practices of Community – these are
essential things, or practices that we do in relationship and, finally, our Pledge to each other – the life we are calling ourselves to live.
Check out some of this Bible Stuff:
1. Ephesians 2 – how far God goes to knock down the walls that separate people.
Jesus died on the cross to bring down the dividing wall, to settle once and for
all, any and all enmity between the people He loves. Any time you purposely put
up a wall, you make a mockery of the sacrifice of Jesus.
2. Forgiveness – Matthew 18 (the entire chapter) – In Jesus’ heart, personal
forgiveness is not enough…God can and will forgive as we pass that
forgiveness on to others. This section is one of the most challenging aspects of
3. The Great Commandment – Matthew 22 – Jesus says, “you want to follow me?
Love God, love others…and follow me (obey me).” Friends, loving God is not
enough – loving others is our call as well – love God/love others so important
Jesus called THEM the greatest commandment – not two commandments but
4. “One another” passages – there are 59 “one another” passage in New
“Many communities of the religious…live in large buildings that tend to separate their
members from other people…isolated personal lives, irresponsible and dishonest attitudes, unresponsiveness to communal needs and assumption of values and aspirations that are ignorant of the Kingdom of God Jesus Himself embodied and proclaimed” John Kavanaugh