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COMMUNITY

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ANNOUNCEMENTS:
Member’s Meeting Coming up (November 11 4-5:30pm)
Veritas 10 Year Celebration (October 7 6pm)
Welcome
Two weeks ago we started a new series where we’re looking at our Rhythms at Veritas — essentially we’re talking about what we believe all Christians should exemplify. What is the manner in which we’re to grow and live?
And — what can you expect from us at Veritas?
Two weeks ago we said that we’re founded and built upon the GOSPEL.
1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
What we believe revolves around WHO GOD IS! We live for God’s glory!
When we live for God’s glory we change — we transform into his likeness.
And that leads to God commissioning of us — to be His people in the world… Loving and living for God’s purposes.
s purposes.
Last week we reviewed our first rhythm of WORSHIP.
Colossians 3:17 ESV
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We recognized that we’re always worshipping. We’re always attributing value to thing. We’re always living for something.
Our aim should be to live for God — to be worshiping God alone!
We don’t elevate earthly things to God-like heights. We put worldly things in their proper place.
Today we’re talking about COMMUNITY.
We talk about community a lot here, so hopefully none of this will be new per se.
My hope is that we understand the IMPORTANCE, THEOLOGY, and NUANCES of Christian Community!
So if you’re able, please stand with me for the reading of God’s Word.
Ephesians 4:11–16 ESV
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
We see several things from this text. What we’re going to focus our attention to is (1) Why Community is integral to Christian Spirituality… (2) The Beauty and Difficulty of a Diverse Community… (3) Hopefully provide a healthy Vision for Community at Veritas
Why is Community so Integral to Christian Spirituality?
Ephesians 4:12 ESV
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Ephesians 4:13 ESV
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
Ephesians 4:14 ESV
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
A Case Against Radical Individualism
In terms of faith, radical individualism proves to be a problem. What we’re talking about is the perspective that the individual has primacy. The individual has the right to choose what ultimately matters. The individual can do for themselves. It’s all about the individual.
Now this isn’t all bad
We should take responsibility for ourselves and for our chooses, in so much as we have control over them — but when we build our Christian practice, specifically, around individualistic principles… it goes against our nature. It’s not what we’re made for.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have personal property or that people shouldn’t be able to make decisions for themselves, but rather that Christians, particularly, are called to be accountable — (1) Accountable to God… (2) Accountable to other Christians.
But what we have is quite the opposite isn’t it? We disdain accountability. Because it’s in opposition to our individualistic vantage point. “If I want this… what right is it of your to tell me I can’t have it? If this feels right to me, what right is it of your to tell me any different?
But if we really decided to live that way it would culminate into chaos… “everyone doing what feels good to them… No one ever taking others into account. There would be no community, not in the way we’re seeing it displayed here in the early church.
Equip the saintsPLURALBUILDING UP THE BODY” PLURALUNTIL WE ATTAIN TO THE UNITYPLURALSO THAT WE MAY NO LONGER BE TOSSED ABOUTPLURAL.
What does this sound like when you hear it?
It sounds like language you’d use to describe FAMILY.
That’s probably one of the best modern examples we could use.
This early Christian community looked a lot like FAMILY.
Committed
there wasn’t a flippant-ness to their devotion each other relationally
Care for one another
what happened to one happened to all — in a sense
Concern for one another
the choices that were made
the life that was being lived
the manner in which individuals were conducting their life
The Purpose of Community
Our Nature
Genesis 1:26–28 ESV
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
”26-28
God is Trinitarian — which means God is three but God is also one. God is three in one. All of that, as difficult as it may be to understand — what does it mean, practically? Well it means a lot… but in regards to our discussion today, it means that God has never been outside the confounds of intimate, healthy, life-giving relationships!
Father, Son, Spirit have always existed. God is a life giving relationship and Genesis reveals that we are made in God’s Image!
If we’re made in God’s image, what does that mean? It means that we’re also made to have intimate, personal, and life-giving relationships!
It’s not a suggestion… it’s how we’re created… it’s how we’re wired… it’s the nature in which we’re made to function and flourish!
Purpose
Equip (v.12)
equip the saints for the work of ministry
One of the purposes of Christian community is that we’re equipped… we have what we need to do the work of being God’s people in God’s world.
We gather and commit to one another to ensure that we’re all becoming more and more equipped to be faithful to Jesus
Building Up (v. 12)
We gather together as Community to build one another up!
Paul, elsewhere in scripture, says we are to “bear one another’s burdens
We are to build one another up — walking through trials together, encouraging one another
Unity of the Faith (v. 13)
all of this aims at us being unified
unified in Christ
unified in right teaching
unified in vision of (1) God’s Glory (2) Our transformation (3) The Great Commission
Knowledge of the Son of God (v. 13)
together, as a Community, we grow in our knowledge of Jesus
this is important — again this growth in knowledge is to be a community project, not done in isolation
Mature Manhood (v. 13)
That we grow in maturity
that we’re genuine, that we’re developing — we’re growing in our identity as being a son/daughter of God
Protected (v. 14)
Ephesians 4:14 ESV
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
This is important to notice
We need Christian community to make sure that we’re not carried away by false belief!
When we’re by ourselves, not in accountability, then it’s easy for us to affirm things that fit within what we want… We create idols within our Christian spirituality when we make it what we want it to be!
We need community to make sure we don’t fall away in error!
Completed in Christ (v. 13)
Ephesians 4:13 ESV
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ...
this what all of this culminates in!
The aim of Christian community is that we become fulfilled in Christ!
The Beauty & Difficulty of Diversity
Ephesians 4:11 ESV
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
Ephesians 4:13 ESV
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
Ephesians 4:12 ESV
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
eph
until we all attain to the unity of the faith...
Hospitality in our Differences
What is happening here?
What we need to notice here is that the people in the early church had differences.
We have differences.
One critical thing happening in this regard for the early church was the reality that God wasn’t just showing up to save the Jews, and Israel, but everyone!
Some early Christian Jews struggled with this! Galatians is actually about Paul calling out Peter for doing this!
We need to recognize that we have differences… And there is beauty and difficulty with that.
We spoke about Hospitality a bit recently, but we need to recognize that again here… Hospitality is the act of creating space for people.
We should create space for different kinds of people — we need to create space for diversity!
What are some simple ways we can create space for others?
We don’t get married to our preferences!
recognize you’re not the only person with an idea, thought, or a preference!
we’re flexible with the things that aren’t closed-handed issues...
We’re not talking about being flexible with our doctrine, theology, or what we believe about God… we keep the main thing the main thing and that allows us to be flexible with the other aspects of life and ministry
We let other’s share varying perspectives without freaking out!
We’re all in process
So we give each other space by letting them share their desires, preferences, feelings without casting immediate judgment that will surely keep them from ever speaking up again.
Willingness to try new things
Make it a point to try our new things…
If we display a willingness to consider someone else’s preferences, the chance of building a more diverse community becomes a possibility
It also makes it easier for someone else to consider your perspective
Celebrating our Differences
More than just creating space for differences and diversity I think we can celebrate it!
If we’re only celebrating the things that fit what we like, then we’re limiting the scope of our experience and ability to relate to others
Another thing to recognize here is really important… We’re NOT talking about CONCEALING OUR PREFERENCES! I think that is ridiculous. I think we should feel free to be ourselves, be honest about what we like, and to be true to the gifts, talents, and abilities we have without trying to appease to everyone’s preferences...
But I think when we celebrate one another’s differences, we actually can foster genuine diversity — where were not all trying to become the same so we don’t risk offense… but we’re being the unique person God made and, AT THE SAME TIME, are able to celebrate one another’s differences!
I think this is healthy! This is what we see the early church striving to be!
A Vision of Healthy Christian Community
Ephesians 4:15–16 ESV
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
A Picture of God’s Grace
Read these words above!
Speak truth in love” … “Grow up in every way in him” … “the whole body being joined together, working together” … “the body growing that it builds itself up in love
To me, this sounds like a picture of God’s Grace! This is a vivid vision of what healthy Christian community can look like. AND IT’S GOOD!
Community Groups
Vision for Westside
There’s a need for clarity with what community groups are trying to do.
We gather in community groups midweek. What’s the purpose?
Bible study? Meal? Care? Discipleship?
The answer is essentially — ALL OF THEM!
And because of that, Community Groups don’t do any of them perfectly. Because they are made up of the people in them, so they inevitably take on the personality of their collective group.
Our overall hope for CG’s is that people have an intentional space for Christian Fellowship!
We’ve been saying — Community is important.
If you’re only showing up to be taught, you’ll be disappointed!
If you’re only showing up to eat, you might be disappointed!
If you’re only showing up to be cared for, you’ll be disappointed!
So what should I do? Show up with a creative posture! Meaning what? Show up with the expectation that you’re going to put yourself out there… you’re going to engage in conversation, ask questions, you’re going to listen and learn about others.
This is hard for us more reserved, introverted types… but we’re going to have to try! We’re going to have to put ourselves out there if we’re going to grow. IT’S A FACT!
We’re going to work on better equipping leaders — trying to provide guardrails — and we’ve heard that people want more structure… which we’re wrestling through
But the reality is — people are messy!
We’re complicated
We all want and need different things
What helps one person will inevitably annoy someone else… so there is that
It’s vital to be in community, but in order to do that well, we have to engage
Be assertive
Put yourself out there
Pastoral Opportunities Based on Surveys
What would you say to people who feel excluded from community because they perceive cliques?
We aren’t perfect, but I can confidently say that most people DO NOT purposefully keep people out of community… That is what a clique is — “we’re in and you’re not welcome
When people refer to cliques, I think what they’re referring to most of the time — is the perception that people know each pretty well and that feels overwhelming as a new person
But think about it this way… Shouldn’t that be a good sign?
If you walk in a community and everyone’s relationships are an inch thick, that says something about the community doesn’t it
If you walk in, and there is some depth of relationship, that means people are in each other’s lives
So what should I do as a new person?
Assume the best about people unless you have good reason not to
Maybe the reason you feel disconnected is your own fault
Ask someone to coffee
Show up when activities are happening
Most importantly, don’t complain… the surest way to make others not want to hang out with you is to be a complainer — this may sound juvenile… but in pastoring, I’ve been amazed at people’s unrealistic expectations in relationships.
Don’t act in a way you wouldn’t want other’s to act towards you!
If you wished someone would reach out? Have you reached out? HOLD YOURSELF TO YOUR STANDARD!
Our community groups are designed to be as diverse as any neighborhood might be since they are location based and not formed around life stages or segregating commonalities (gender, age, race, life stage). However, for those who carry around a deep need to connect with others in their life stage, what would you say to them?
That’s fine.
What would you say to people who feel excluded from community because they perceive cliques?
I get it. If you’re older, you may not want to sit around with a bunch of kiddos going bonkers.
But again, we must be careful to NOT ONLY & ALWAYS build a community of people around us that fits our preferences. Young needs to learn from OLD… and vice versa.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the community, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together
Do we believe God is sovereign? Then trust that God knows what he is doing in putting the particular people in your church in front of you on purpose, right now!… maybe it’s exactly what you need to be challenged in whatever particular way you’re being challenged right now!
Some people just want to know whether groups are for socialization, growth, recapping the sermon, or serving together. Maybe people need an elevated concept of community group as our best shot at trying to make the elusive Christian community a reality.
Our community groups are designed to be as diverse as any neighborhood might be since they are location based and not formed around life stages or segregating commonalities (gender, age, race, life stage). However, for those who carry around a deep need to connect with others in their life stage, what would you say to them?
Are community groups supposed to be a place for non-believers as well? Some seem to be unsure.
Some people just want to know whether groups are for socialization, growth, recapping the sermon, or serving together. Maybe people need an elevated concept of community group as our best shot at trying to make the elusive Christian community a reality.
Yes
This is what makes groups so messy, in a wonderful way.
Everyone is at different places!
Are community groups supposed to be a place for non-believers as well? Some seem to be unsure.
Seasoned Christians, new Christians, non-Christians!
Be hospitable! Be gracious! Be patient!
Some people have barriers — Some people’s barriers are social/emotional/shyness. Others are dealing with sickness or they work 2nd and 3rd shift.
There is NO one-size-fits-all solution! What we do at Veritas is not perfect.
Identify and acknowledge all the barriers to being in a group, and speak to each one. Some people’s barriers are social/emotional/shyness. Others are dealing with sickness or they work 2nd and 3rd shift. I think our pressure for engagement in Christian community should look different.
But we believe this so much, it’s a hill we willl die on…
We are made for community and Christians are being disobedient to Scripture when they live life outside of a commited community of believers!
And listen: “easy relating” isn’t exactly the goal at Veritas. A lot of people want it and are frustrated when it doesn’t happen.
We could probably dispel a lot of frustration and miscommunication by simply saying that” easy relating” isn’t exactly the goal at Veritas. A lot of people want it and are frustrated when it doesn’t happen.
Genuine relationship takes time.
Genuine relationship takes experiences and multiple interactions and space!
Are you willing to go on this journey?
What is holding you back?
What is your next step?
APPLICATION
Unity, not uniformity
We don’t need to act the same, but we are to be one in Christ
We unite around the cross!
We unite around the truthfulness of God’s Word
Diversity, not division
our differences should not divide us!
We should be hospitable to one another
we must create pace for one another
We should celebrate one another’s differences
COMMUNITY GROUP REFLECTION
Read and reflect upon .
How is the Lord inviting you to grow in Community?
What is your next step?
COMMUNION
L: In the night in which he was betrayed, Our lord Jesus took bread,He gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you.Do this for the remembrance of me.
L: Again, after supper,He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying; this cup is The new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin.Do this for the remembrance of me. Silent Reflection – to prepare our hearts toCome to the Lords table
L: Jesus' death brings us life and this meal reminds us that we are fed by Jesus and forgiven because of Jesus.
C: We rejoice that You have died, have risen, and are now with the Father advocating for us. Amen.
L: With our money, time, and talent we give generously, knowing that through Your Son, Jesus, You have generously given to us.
C: We rejoice that You have given everything and we joyfully give everything back to Your care. Amen.
L: If you believe Jesus died to forgive you your sins you are welcome to come,
L: Come for all is ready
BENEDICTION
Go now as adopted sons and daughters of the loving Father, through the blood of His perfect Son, Jesus, being kept by the power of the Spirit. Peace be with you.
12 - goal is to equip for the WORK of ministry
building up the body of Christ (the Church)
13 - aimed at 1. unity of faith
& 2. knowledge of Jesus
3. mature manhood
4. which is marked by (maturity) Christ-likeness [i.e. describing sanctification
14 - so we aren’t tossed like children by every new doctrine
“human cunning” — we are creative in our rebellion against truth
described as crafty and deceitful
15 - speak truth in love
Christ is over all (“Christ is the head”)
16 - the Church is held together by Jesus
every Christian is needed to build up the whole
our love for one another exemplifies Jesus’ love for us!
I was surprised to see how much people expect and want the church leadership to facilitate their relationships. I tried to read into the surveys to better understand this desire, and it seems this was coming from people who had negative experiences with Christian community because they feel they don’t fit in, cliques, they can’t find anyone in their life stage, or because of they have sin issues or trauma that prevents them from experiencing Christian community in a way everyone else seems to just get into naturally.
maybe an inttroduction
11-16: the means to get there
diversity not division
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