*Once upon a time people lived in community. Entertainment was found in conversation. When people were in difficulty they helped one another out. Their lives depended on that because there was no welfare state or NHS. Nowadays we rarely know the neighbours, never mind the rest of the street. We get our entertainment from a screen. We don’t need anyone else, so we live side by side with strangers. Bill Hybels speaks of a generation that is “community starved”. This pattern of living has infected the church. How well do we really know our friends at church? Are they a part of our lives? If we are to call ourselves a “community church” our fellowship must go beyond a “Slimmer’s World” version of “community lite”. Our fellowship must have that messy relationship stuff that puts some weight on our community and makes it sturdy and real. Jesus clearly believed in community. Just before He went to the cross He prayed these words for the believers that would follow
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20-21(ESV)
How can we be one with people we do not know? Jesus speaks here of His relationship with His Father as a model of how Christians are to relate to one another. We are to be one as they are one, united heart and soul in a bond that transcends death. When believers relate to one another on that kind of level the world will sit up and take notice! Those that live around us will want to know what makes us different. Our small groups provide a practical way for us to be obedient to Christ and to live out the answer to His prayer. As we go into a new year, let’s commit to meeting together and to releasing the power that flows from groups of believers that love one another.
Yours in Christ,
Ian Thompson (Acting pastor)
* Acknowledgement: “Building a Church of Small Groups” by Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson