The Community Group Laura and I are leading met last night for the first time. We loved being able to open up our home, share a meal and take the first steps toward gospel-centered community with a new group of friends.
At Restoration City, we want our Community Groups to be characterized by four descriptors.
Welcoming. Our Community Groups need to be open to anyone regardless of where they are on their spiritual journey. Community Groups aren’t just for the spiritually elite. They aren’t just for those who are new to the faith. They aren’t even just for Christians. We want our Community Groups to be welcoming for family, friends, neighbors and co-workers who haven’t yet placed their faith in Jesus or understand that faith differently than we do. Jesus lived in such a way that “the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to him.” (Lk. 15:1) If we’re preaching His gospel and becoming more like Him, there should be non-Christians wanting to join our Community Groups. It’s our job to welcome them.
Loving. Throughout the Scripture, Jesus calls His followers to love one another. (John 13:34; Romans 12:10; 1 John 3:11) Our love for one another is a testimony to the world, a tangible reminder of the gospel and a means of growing in grace. But we can’t love well if we hardly know each other. That’s why our Community Group meetings start with 30-45 minutes of time to hang out over a meal, dessert, coffee or whatever. The point of that time isn’t feeding people – it’s giving us space to develop meaningful relationships.
Transforming. God is working in our lives to make us more like Jesus. (1 Thess. 4:3) The tool He uses more than any other for this project is His Word. It’s His Word that renews our minds, rebukes us, reveals the idols of our hearts and prepares us for every good work. (Romans 12:2, 2 Tim. 3:16) So, we want to study the Bible. Not books about the Bible but the Bible itself. God’s Word will always be central to our gatherings because it’s the clearest way for us to hear God’s voice.
Multiplying. Healthy groups will grow. If our Community Groups are welcoming, loving, transforming places, more people are going to want to attend. As more people come, your group is going to outgrow whatever living room it’s meeting in currently. That’s a good thing – because it means we’re ready to plant a new group out of your current group. Yes, it can be painful to see members of your group leave to go start a new one but it’s a beautiful reminder that our mission is more important than our comfort. Besides, if we want to plant new churches, planting new Community Groups is a good first step!
Community isn’t optional in the Christian life. As Tim Keller says, “In short, there is no more important means of discipleship – of the formation of Christian character – than deep involvement in the life of the church, the Christian community.” (Center Church, Pg. 313) Don’t sit on the sidelines wondering why you aren’t growing – jump into community as see how much God uses it in your life!