Imagine this. You’ve been in an ongoing spiritual discussion with someone and are asked, “So what is the Gospel?” How would you answer? I had a pretty pat answer in mind until I spent time reflecting on the first four verses of Isaiah 61. This passage points out a bigger understanding of the Gospel than I’m used to thinking
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Rather than evaluate the success of a small group by the percentage of a church’s people involved, I’m much more likely to ask questions about how people are demonstrating discipleship and mission in their lives. How are people growing in spiritual disciplines? How many are inviting friends to try out the group? How deep are the relationships within the group? How does the group care for one another and their neighbors?
The call of community isn’t about finding people just like us, at the exclusion of others. Community, in the biblical sense, is clearly about unlike people finding Christ at the center of their inclusive life together. Thus, issues of community reflect powerful dynamics of how God brings very diverse people together for his glory and his witness in the world.
I’m concerned with developing small groups of people who covenant to a shared life together as they grow in Christlikeness and join God’s mission together. That leaves me with this question. How do we establish counter-cultural groups in a culturally relevant way?
We would love to form a neighborhood small group where everyone on our block knows each other well, joins in spiritual conversations, prays for one another, and finds ways to serve in our community together. It’s a wonderful dream that we talk about often. The problem is, we don’t know our neighbors!