I recently experienced a jolt of joy that has me so excited that I have to share it with you. I was with a group of people from Redwood Covenant who will be Hosts and Guides of our newly formed Community Groups. At the end of our gathering, after a time of teaching and communion, I sensed a level of community with God and others that struck me so much that I was at a loss for words, which, as my wife will tell you, is all too rare.
Part of what I was experiencing was what the Spirit loves to do: bind us in the unity of God’s love that Jesus models and makes possible. I did not enjoy feeling stupid at my loss of words, but I did enjoy the love I felt.
I believe that hospitality and community are two ways that God will convert the church and reach skeptics in our day. Did I just write, “convert the church?” Aren’t we already converted? Yes and no.
Christians are redeemed and made holy by God through Christ, but there is a sense in which we always need to catch up to what God has done and is doing. Conversion is not just a one-time decision, but is also an ongoing transformation into the likeness of Jesus. That second type of conversion takes time, the work of the Spirit, and our intent to live into the new life that Jesus offers. And it takes others.
And that’s why I’m so excited about the potential of Community Groups.
I meet a lot of people who are burned-out, frustrated and skeptical about any institutional form of Christianity. And those people are Christians! And while I love the church in all her mess, I share some of their frustration. The form that the church takes does not always look like the bride of Christ. And while I recognize that the church is more than it’s form, it is not less than it’s form, either. And, well, we have some re-forming to do if we are to become who God calls us to be as the living, breathing, moving body of Christ.
And that’s why I am so excited about Community Groups.
Community Groups represent a way for us to connect, share lives together, and seek to incarnate the good news to neighbors and friends who are hungry for connection, love and compassion. It’s that simple.
Discipleship in Community doing Mission. It seems simple. And it is! And it’s also challenging!! It’s challenging to convert from a religious consumer to an apprentice of Jesus.
Two weeks ago, we introduced fourteen Community Groups, and the response was amazing. Close to one hundred people signed up–and that’s just the first week! Can you imagine hundreds more, gathering in homes, sharing a meal, sharing their lives and sharing the love of God in mission adventures that catch the attention of their friends and neighbors? I can. Like you, I am hungry to connect with others and with God and to share the gospel in practical ways to others.
That’s why I am so excited.