Community in the Community
These (the picture above) are just some of my people. This picture is our small group from Willow Creek Church that meets on Thursday nights. This picture represents movement in a personal journey wherein I have grown in love (and at times frustration) with the need for a community of believers in my life. In this short blog post, we're going to discuss why having a personal community of believers (through a small group) is necessary when seeking to make an impact on your own heart and in the community/city/world around you.
My first response to being asked to co-lead a small group almost 4 years ago by a former Willow Creek Church member was, "I'm just too busy for that right now." That's our natural reaction to hearing the word small group right? I'm. Too. Busy! And the reality is, we are.
Work responsibilities, family duties, personal relationships, extra-curricular activities... all of these and many more produce a "cup" of things we have going on in our lives. How can I add 1 more thing to my cup, without my cup running over? The answer- we need community to help us carry our cup, not add 1 more thing to our cup.
God gave Adam a helper in Eve in Genesis 2:18, specifically because God created and designed mankind in such a way that we are in need of a community around us who will be there with us and for us. King David found community in the close friendships of Jonathan, Nathan the prophet, Joab the army commander, and others. Jesus used his community, the 12 apostles and a few other disciples, to bring the Gospel to all nations and to literally change the world.
I give these biblical examples not to guilt anyone, but rather to lay the foundation for why community is necessary. In Adam's case, it was to have someone to go through the challenges of being tasked with overseeing God's creation and to begin the human race. David needed accountability in the midst of his sin, and voices speaking truth into areas in which he was weak. Jesus modeled how to go out into the world in strength by going with other people, and how to make an impact by pouring into someone's life.
When moving to our new house in Casselberry one year ago, Becky & I purposefully decided on a house that would be open to hosting our small group. To have a space for people who are single, who are dating, who are married, who have children, etc... to all be welcomed in and to experience meaningful community in a real way. Each Thursday night, our group meets to pray, to open God's word, and as we look ahead, to seek the needs of the community around us and determine how we can obey God's will to "make disciples of all nations."
Personally, I have seen relationships deepen and genuine joys and concerns get lifted up and met as people in our group have gotten married, broken up, had kids, struggled to have kids, move, change jobs, get sick, get promotions, and on and on and on... I can celebrate and cry all with the SAME group of people, my small group!
Maybe you've been thinking you need community via a small group but you are not an outgoing person. Maybe you know you need Christians to cry with you and listen to you but you just cannot find the time in your schedule. We at Willow Creek Church want you to know that Christian community is hugely important to you as an individual and to the community around you. We want you to know we will do everything we can to help you as you find community among fellow believers in Christ.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, Though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him- a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Come, find your community and let someone else carry your "cup." In doing so, you'll find what the Lord is doing in you, and through you.