What’s the Glue of Community?
There have been a lot of attempts to cultivate community in the local church–small groups, accountability groups, cell groups, missional communities, gospel communities. The problem with a lot of these structures is that they make the wrong thing central. The glue is all wrong. Small groups make community the glue. Accountability groups make holiness the glue. Cell groups make evangelism the glue. Missional communities make mission the glue. All of these get stuck on the wrong things.
Gospel Community Should be Sticky
Gospel communities, however, gather around the gospel not community or mission. Gospel communities are a basic structure of church that fosters gospel community on mission. Gospel communities gather people, not around community or mission, but around the Gospel of Christ. The gospel knits different people together around the same Savior. If community or mission is central to your experience of church, to your selection of church, you will eventually be very disappointed. There is no community that is entirely reliable. There is not enough strength in your heart to survive on mission alone. You were created for more.
We need a community-creating God who insists that he remain central in all our longings–community, friendship, acceptance, love, mission. We need communities that are committed to one another, committed to God’s mission, but who are ultimately committed to God himself. Communities that love one another enough to point one another beyond the desire for relationship, acceptance, and making a mark thru mission…to the love of Christ that releases us to be better family and servants on God’s mission. We need communities that will speak gospel truth, offer listening, patient ears, endure silently with us in suffering, not because they are great, but because the Suffering Servant, the Way, the Truth, and the Life is great. This kind of Gospel Community is sticky.
Gospel-centered Friendship: Fight Clubs
Gospel community takes a lot of time, sweat, tears, repentance, failure, and love. A lot of gospel. It’s a command, for our good, for our collective gospel witness in the city, for God’s infinite glory. However, there’s a way to make progress as a person in community at a more personal pace. Friends. Not just any old friendship. Deep friendship. Real friendship that extends much deeper than shared hobbies, interests, and stage of life.
Fight Clubs are friends that grow their friendship deeply by taking sin and grace seriously. They choose to be friends that are even more faithful than a brother. Friends who will graciously offend, faithfully listen, refuse to be the answer or always offer one. Fight Clubs are groups of men and women that love Jesus together more than they love one another. They keep Christ central in every longing. They hold up the mirror of God’s Word to one another, while also pointing to God’s Lamp that heals, restores, renews. These kind of friends are hard to find. These kind of friends aren’t promised. They are a choice, a privilege. They are best found in Gospel Community of some sort. But before you go hunting for gospel community and friendship, be sure to ask this important question: “Am I this kind of friend?” “Do I cultivate this kind of community?”
This article taken from the blog entry on July 5, 2010 at gospelcentereddiscipleship.com.
- What portion of my reading stands out to me? Why?
- Is there an example for me to follow?
- Is there an error for me to avoid?
- Is there a duty for me to perform?
- Is there any promise for me to claim?
- Is there a sin for me to confess?
Beyond these questions, I also like to look for words or phrases that describe God or his character. As I meditate on what the scripture says about God I come to know and love God more.
As leaders, challenge those in your group to do more than just read their Bibles. Question it, and watch and see how God begins to work in your small group's lives.
At the retreat I gave you a resource entitled Fight Club: Gospel Centered Discipleship. I encourage you to read it, if you haven't done so already. It will serve as a helpful resource as you begin to develop and/or improve the accountability/discipleship within your small group. Recently a blog has been started for Fight Clubs. It contains resources, tips on how to begin a fight club, gospel-centered questions, and numerous post from others working to develop these communities within their groups.
Check it out at: www.austincitylife.org/fight-clubs.