It’s been a while since I have blogged on the topic of community-life due to a greater focus on the missional aspect of 24/7 organic church lifestyle.
But, I do not want to forget that Jesus tied community-life and mission together when he said, “May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me (John 17:23)”
Now, let’s be clear.
Developing committed, authentic community life among a core group of follower is, well…
- Messy. There is no smooth sailing when it comes to forging relationships.
- Difficult. It’s easy to give up and find excuses to just move on.
- Humbling. Like any relationships, our pride will be challenged.
- Frustrating. Why do people have to be so much like people???
- Hard work. Honestly, most people do not want to invest what it takes. You get out of it what you put into it. Nothing more. There are no free rides in the experience of community.
But forging deep relationships over a longer period of time has amazing benefits:
1. I have many spiritual friends that have stood with me while going through some of the darkest times of my life including losing a son two years ago. There is nothing like that kind of care and support when you need it most. It makes the hard work of building community well worth it!
2. I have grown immeasurably from the challenges of working through issues and conflicts with others in my community, however uncomfortable.
3. I have support for my mission and passions which is practical and real. I trust that I provide similar support to others in my ‘gang.’
4. I get to experience, in no small measure, what John Eldredge describes:
“You cannot live the Christian life without a small group of intimate allies surrounding you... who know you... and who will stand with you and fight for your heart."
I believe community is one of the most difficult aspects of true Jesus-following. But I do know what it is to feel the strength of having intimate allies in my life, and it’s worth the effort.