We’ve spoke a lot about the why of community, but we will now begin to discuss the how of community.

Lead With Conviction (not pragmatism)

Danger of developing a “do what works” mentality – we will short change the long range goals of discipleship with this type of thinking. This is the reason we spent two solid weeks discussing the conviction of why this is an important endeavor–biblically mandated, creatively ordered, God-inspired and Christ-exalting.

Depend on the Holy Spirit

Jesus did not leave us alone in this mission, we have a helper. The Holy Spirit is our helper. He gives us strength. He helps us to apply God's Word to our hearts.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
— 1 Peter 2:9-12

Peter was writing to many congregations in an area. Peter desired that these congregations would realize who they were in Christ and operate out of this conviction.

 

We are seeking to build community from a sense of vision rather than reaction.

A Via Community cannot be built out of a reaction to where we are at as a church (e.g., we need to community groups to help people make friends, feel more connected, teach the Bible better, give greater pastoral care). They must be built around deeper convictions and a deeper vision of purpose.

In the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey lays out two principles on the road of effectiveness that he communicates as follows:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
If we begin with a picture of community that is formed out of the image of God and who we are in light of the cross, then we are sure to meet the particular needs of the church.
— Brad House, Community (p. 89)

WE ARE SEEKING TO BUILD COMMUNITY with purpose rather than as a product.

 

We must be careful not to make the product of community the purpose.

We must, therefore, be careful that we do not inadvertently encourage one another to seek the blessing rather than the Author of the blessing by making the product of community its purpose.
— Brad House, Community (p. 90)

This is a major part of your role as a Via Community Leader, to remind people what the purpose ultimately is and help them to see the bi-product is valuable only as it relates to the ultimate purpose.

The Westminster Catechism (developed in 1646) states: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

John Piper, in his book Desiring God, articulates a compelling reason for us to rephrase this answer by swapping out one word for another. Instead of "and" utilize the word "by" to communicate that we glorify God by enjoyed Him.

When we think about the implications for leading communities, the statement should be applied to multiple arenas and perspectives thusly:

The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him...

  • Forever: This is the ultimate end and what our entire being points to–the right worship of God.
  • Together: Also important is the understanding that our endeavors are not solo endeavors, that God has created us for community and we are shaped and encouraged by God through the conduit of community in our lives.
  • Through Christ: Jesus is the means by which we can rightly come to God and is the center of our worship.
  • On Mission: The ultimate end is forever worship, but the particular expression of our glorifying/enjoying God is by our glad-hearted joining Him in His mission for creation.

Mission is the Center

For the sake of our Via Communities, Mission is the very center stake of those communities. We center on mission, because through Christ God has saved us, brought us together into community and called us to glorify/enjoy Him forever.

You will need to make decisions based around the accomplishment of the mission in your neighborhood, among your community and in your life. You may be tempted to allow the bi-products of community dictate the direction of your community, but with conviction and dependence on the Holy Spirit, ask the tough questions related to how to best accomplish mission.

  • What is best for accomplishing the mission?
  • How can we be more effective in showing God's Kingdom?
  • In what ways do we create obstacles to mission in our Via Community?
 

WE ARE SEEKING TO BUILD COMMUNITY That sees community as who we are rather than what we do.

We must develop an understanding of who we are, based on what the Bible tells us and what we see in God Himself, in whose image we have been made. As we look at the Trinity, we see a powerful identity woven into the personhood of God.

Father
We are family

That God in Christ, adopted us into His Family and calls us sons and daughters. We ought to operate as family.

I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:18

Son
We are servants

That Jesus, did not come to be served but to serve. He gave his life away for our sake. We ought to seek to be a servant to all.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is your in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:4-7

Holy Spirit
We are missionaries

The Holy Spirit is the promised one who Jesus said would empower us to be witnesses in this world. We ought to learn our culture and communicate the Gospel in ways that are understandable.

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses...
Acts 1:8

In a statement:
We are a family of servant missionaries sent to tell the world about Jesus and to make his known in our hearts and our communities.

Operate out of your identity rather than your to-do list.

 

WE ARE SEEKING TO BUILD COMMUNITY THAT exists as a lifestyle rather than an event.

Rhythms - This is a key word as we think about the life of a community.

Be aware of life rhythms. Some examples include (but are not limited to):

  • seasonal rhythms
  • school rhythms
  • community rhythms
  • holiday rhythms
  • sports rhythms
  • family rhythms

We operate with a variety of rhythms at play in our lives. Think heavily about the integration of these rhythms within your community. Don’t view community as a competitive rhythm, but rather as a complementary rhythm, giving greater purpose and wholeness to the other rhythms of your life.

This requires creative thinking and different thinking.


Scenarios

Problem: We’ve got soccer games on Saturday mornings. We don’t have time for community.
Idea: Consider inviting your community to a soccer game to cheer on your team.

Problem: We don’t have childcare for the kids, so we can’t meet regularly.
Idea: Set up a lifestyle rhythm of one week the men watch the kids and the wives hang out, the next they switch, the third week the come to Third Sunday as a community, the fourth they all hang out together.

Problem: I can't be involved in my community because I have something going on every night of the week.
Idea: You may be too busy, consider the importance of this aspect of your life related to what else you are pursuing.


We need to rethink our lifestyle when considering community.

Cultural Idol: Individualism

We must consider that we have a deep-rooted cultural idol of individualism that guides much of our thinking and actions–probably to levels that we are mostly unaware. In our culture, autonomy is one of the highest goals. We desire to be fully independent from anyone and everyone. Such phrases may highlight this desire within our culture: “He is a self-made man”, “He is an island”, “He pulled himself up by his own bootstraps”, etc.

Our culture does not cause us to value community as we should, so we need to work to understand the biblical reasoning for community, so we can operate out from that narrative.

 

WE ARE SEEKING TO BUILD COMMUNITY THAT is life-giving rather than life-taking.

Leader Tip: Don’t compartmentalize your time within your community. Such as the following (breaking out an hour of time):

  • Hangout time (15 minutes)
  • Spiritual time (15 minutes)
  • Eating time (25 minutes)
  • Prayer time (5 minutes)

Find ways to integrate these moments more holistically.

The Real Danger: False Separation

The real danger when we order our times together like this is that we inadvertently condition our people to break apart their life in unhealthy, unbiblical ways. We tell them through this type of action that there are sacred moments and secular moments. We communicate that there are common moments where we just talk about baseball and the weather and then there are spiritual moments where we engage with God. This is false dichotomy and it is not helpful. This will take life rather than give life. Seek to integrate these components of life that we sometimes try to separate.


Leader Tip #1: Throw the Best Party

Your party should not be the one that the neighbors try to find an excuse to get out of but rather the one they are trying to find an excuse to get in.

Leader Tip #2: Join the Party

As you get to know your neighbors, join their party (if invited) and live in your identity in Jesus there as well.


WE ARE SEEKING TO BUILD COMMUNITY THAT is creative expression rather than conforming to a mold.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
— Acts 2:42-47

There are some basic elements that we gather from this passage that should direct us in thinking about what we integrate into our gathering intentionally. The goal with this is not conformity to a certain type of expression, but rather to creatively integrate these elements into your community holistically.

Bible Study

they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching

Almost instantly, when you think of a bible study, you think of a group of people sitting in a circle with bibles in their laps. At times, this may take on this form, but what would it look like for you to integrate God's Word into your community in other ways that may be more relationally dependent. What if you as a Via Community Leader incorporated the message from Sunday into your gatherings by letting your community know that they need to communicate how the message was received.

Confession and Repentance

they devoted themselves to...the fellowship

- This doesn’t have to be public, but can be. This can be a moment when a few people are talking about one of them confesses that they (relate it to current sermon).

Worship

they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people

This doesn’t have to be singing in unison, but it can be. This rather should be an understanding that whatever we do, we do it to the glory of God. How can you draw attention to this? When you eat, you should do so to the glory of God–realizing that he is the giver and you are receiving from Him.

Prayer

they devoted themselves to...the prayers

This can be spontaneous or a repeated rhythm within a community. This is how we express our dependence on God as a community.

Hospitality

all who believed were together and had all things in common...breaking bread in their homes

This is a way for us to serve one another and welcome others into community.

Exercise of Spiritual Gifts

many signs and wonders were being done through the apostles

The Holy Spirit is all about pointing to Jesus and he helps us do the same. Within a community, the Holy Spirit may choose to utilize you with gifts that he would distribute for the edifying of your community. The Holy Spirit will also produce fruit in your life of the work that God is doing in you. Community is necessary to see this fruit that we can sometimes be blinded to see otherwise.

Mission

And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

This is simply living as missionaries to your neighborhood and community–seeking to bring Jesus to the people God has given to you, placed around you, or placed you within.

 

WE ARE SEEKING TO BUILD COMMUNITY THAT is a blessing to us as it was intended to be.

God created us to live in shalom (peace) with:

  • God
  • Mankind
  • Creation

These three things were broken in the fall.

God is restoring these three aspects of broken shalom that we experience.

This restoration:

  • restores us to God
  • restores us to one another
  • restores us to the creation itself
 

Prayer

This week, focus your prayers on two things.

1. Jesus to Calm Your Fear

Think of one thing that terrifies you about living in community and ask the Holy Spirit to give you boldness, guidance and trust in Jesus to calm your fear in this area.

2. Jesus to Guide Your Excitement

Think of one thing that excites you about living in community and ask the Holy Spirit to give you vision, courage and confidence in Jesus to guide that which excites you, so that it can be realized in a God-glorifying way.

 

Next Week

Read: Chapter 5 - Neighborhood (in Community by Brad House)


Remaining Schedule

Session 4: Neighborhood
Sunday, August 30
6 - 7:30pm (Location: The Chapel)

Session 5: Spaces
Thursday, September 3*
6 - 7:30pm (Location: The Chapel)
*come hungry - we will have a meal for this session

Session 6: Rhythms
Sunday, September 13
6 - 7:30pm (Location: Main Auditorium)