As we begin the new ministry year, we want to emphasize the importance of being in community. Community is essential to the life of a spiritually healthy believer for at least four reasons.
Community reflects the nature of God
God is himself a person in community. As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we see that God exists in relationship. Since we are created in His image, we are made to exist in relationship, too. We are not meant to be alone. In fact, from the beginning, God saw that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), so he created the family. In the New Testament, we see this idea of family now extending to the church (Ephesians 2:19). The church is meant to be a global, timeless family, and we are invited to contribute to and enjoy our new forever family.
Community reflects the work of Jesus
Our forever family came together at a great cost to Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:16 reminds us that Jesus lived, died, and rose again to “reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross.” The “both” mentioned there refers to Jews and Gentiles, two people groups who lived in opposition to one another. No one could bring them together. However, Jesus broke down the barriers between people groups by taking the penalty for their sin and removing the greater barrier between all people and God. True, healthy, growing community is the fruit of what Jesus has done for us, and our communities are at their best when we remind each other of Him.
Community helps others
When we participate in community, we participate in helping others. Being “in community” is synonymous with sharing each other’s burdens and blessing. The word for community or fellowship in the New Testament is “koinonia,” which at its root has the verb “to share.” This is exactly what the early church did. We read, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and the prayers . . . and all who believed were together and had all things in common (koina). And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:42, 44-45, ESV). In Acts, community took on very real and practical dimensions, and it should today as well.
Community helps us
Finally, we should remember that community helps us, too. We need the love and support of others (Galatians 6:2). We need the accountability and challenge of others (Galatians 6:1). Even the Apostle Peter needed this (Galatians 2:11). To practice the “one anothers” of the Bible, we need others. To experience the “one anothers” of the Bible, we need others. Jesus himself prepared his disciples through life together in community. So, it must be essential to our own development.
This year we want to encourage you to engage deeply in community. Be it an Adult Bible Fellowship, a Growth Group, a D-Group, or some other community group, don’t sit on the sidelines and miss out on the gift God has for you in his community, the church.