This past Sunday at Hope Church, was the second week of our three week series called “Core Training.” In the series, we look at worship, community, and service as core areas or pillars in our discipleship process as a church. Sunday, we talked about developing Christ-centered community in our church and living it outside of the four walls of the church. (You can listen to the sermon here)
I think we’ve all encountered people and “community” where relationships exist to be manipulated, abused, taken advantage of, and where there is little to no transparency or authenticity in relationships (I’m probably guilty of this in some way). We hang out with someone because of what they can do for us- or how they make us feel- or because we believe we’ll get some reward. Especially in our churches, we put on a squeeky clean, “everything is under control” veneer because we’re afraid about what people would think if we didn’t have everything under control.
Christ-Centered community, the kind of community I hope we can cultivate at Hope Church, sheds the fake veneer and takes risks to put the needs, wants, desires, and dreams of others ahead of our own. We want to love and care others because God first loved and cared for us- and we want to reflect that love to others.
One of the best examples I can think of community in my life has been the various mission teams that I’ve been on and led. People sign up for a mission trip for a variety of reasons, but often towards the middle or end of the trip, the veneer begins to shed; hearts are broken; and a common ground is established that takes relationships to a new level. A culture of community begins to take shape that often continues once coming back home.
This won’t be easy, it will be risky- but as we seek to follow Jesus, it will be rewarding as we experience a life-giving community marked with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
What has been your best experience of Christ-Centered community? Where have you seen the Holy Spirit at work in community?