by Ken Wootton
If you have been around our church you would have heard that we are passionate about discipleship, community and worship. We truly believe that Jesus commissioned us to go about our daily lives connecting people to Him (Mathew 28:19-20). This connection with God means that we must connect to others in really meaningful ways (John 13:35). This provides us with a framework for what community can be like.
We hear the word “community” a lot, especially around church. But what is it, really?
We have relationships all around us. We have been uniquely created for connection with God and with other people in a lively community. (Acts 2).
The closest friends, the most supportive family members, the people who understand you when no one else seems to — that’s the essence of being in community. We foster this type of community in our small groups. Real community isn’t just based on proximity, but on purpose. We love the connections that happen in our small groups, as people have formed lifelong friendships. The dynamic of moving forward and growth is so important and we believe that the best friendships are the ones that help each grow in their relationship with Jesus.
In a time-poor world with the pressures of work, family and life here are four benefits of being connected in community:
1. You are known and valued
Friends know you: your fears, hopes, struggles, values, weaknesses, and strengths. Every one of us should be known and valued for who we are because we are each known by God and valuable to Him (Psalm 139:13-16). We can have many acquaintances but very few friends. In our social-media-connected world, we seem to propagate acquaintances and can find ourselves widely connected, yet lonely.
In community you can help your friends grow more comfortable and share more of yourselves with each other. Your willingness to share your heart, struggles, victories, and honest thoughts will encourage them to follow your example. The more transparent you are, the more potential that relationship has to grow.
2. You trust and are trusted
Communication builds trust. Trust is like oxygen to the life of your relationships. An atmosphere lacking trust will choke your momentum and can cause acquaintances to disappear. On the other hand, an atmosphere thick with trust helps foster amazing experiences and conversations that help you and your friends each grow in their relationship with each other and with Jesus. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The confidence we receive from a never changing Saviour and Lord helps us build trust in each other as we transparently share our journeys together.
3. You love genuinely
We learn how to unconditionally love through our growing relationship with Jesus and experiencing His grace and love for us. He gave up His life so we can receive eternal life. He shows us that love is looking out and caring for others, no matter the cost and that’s what we can do for the friends closest to us. (Philippians 2:3-8)
God sent Jesus to redeem us, to pay for our sins, not because of our great love for God, but because of His great love for us. (1 John 4:19). Through God’s love for us, we have the ability to love each other. (1 John 4:11)
4. Sharing life with someone
Life has mountains and valleys, challenges and joys. The best friendships are fashioned when you walk through and experience the high and lows together. Acquaintances are fair weather friends. Relationships grow stronger as two or more people share and discus life experiences.
Jesus helped His friends grow in life, leadership and relationship. They were fishermen when He found them, but through their time and relationship with Jesus, they were changed forever. Jesus saw their potential to be leaders of the church someday (Luke 5:1-11)
Sometimes we need people who see things from a different perspective. It allows our ideas and actions to be challenged. Having a close group of caring friends help keep us on course. Sometimes, wisdom comes from people who are close enough to talk with honestly but far enough away that they have a different perspective. (Proverbs 15:22) All of this helps us grow in our relationship with Jesus.
At COCT we are about leading people in growing their relationship with Jesus. Our groups help people connect and grow. Following Jesus together helps us become who God’s made us to be. Visit our small groups online section or say g’day to one of our guest services team and they will help get you connected!