• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

A community of shared hearts

A colleague of mine sent this quote to me yesterday. It’s taken from the book, Connecting:

The crisis of care in modern culture, especially in the Western church, will not be resolved by training more therapists….It will be worsened by moralists who never reach deeply into the hearts of people in their efforts to impose their standards of behavior on others, even when those standards are biblical.   The greatest need in modern civilization is the development of communities – true communities where the heart of God is home, where the humble and wise learn to shepherd those on the path behind them, where trusting strugglers lock arms with others as together they journey on.

The daily care we need for our souls, for our hearts will be found in community. However, servletthat is where the rub comes in.

Most of us assume that community will be found in our ministry team, and it just may be. However, teams are built to accomplish ministry tasks and are not by nature communities; that is, places where we can share our hearts with others and be shaped by the engagement of others with us.

Most of us assume that community is easily established, and it just could be the case. However, community often requires time spent together, trust, and an atmosphere that is framed by God’s Word. It doesn’t have to be a Bible study, but what happens in our community time together must flow out of God’s principles and God’s ‘one another’ commands.

Most of assume, in our hearts, that we really don’t need community. Warning signs should immediately come up on our life’s dashboard.  Community is essential to growth in the Christian life. As ‘iron sharpens iron’, so we participate in the long-term spiritual growth of one another when we enter into community with a small group of other believers.

Community is about shared hearts; opening up to others so that they may walk with us in our journey; a journey where “trusting strugglers lock arms with others as together they journey on.”

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for the quote. The France Field has made developing better communities one of it’s three priorities for 2016. Many of our teams have struggled because they do not feel like they have been able to achieve the level of community they need to be authentic creators of community. Your quotes are so true. Teams, especially multi cultural teams may never provide every aspect of community we need. In any case community grows over time. A church planting team may not have that much time.

    • Teams can certainly provide some elements of community. But trying to make a team equal a communtiy is a difficult task. That is why it is important for us as workers to find a communkty outside of our team where we can grow in our own spiritual development. Hats off to the France team for making this a priority in this year!

  2. ** The following comment is written with love and deep respect for you:

    I don’t understand. As church planters among unreached people groups, where do you suggest we find spiritual community outside of our team? For many of us, our team members are the only other believers within close reach who we may have a chance of seeing or speaking to regularly. (I know you know this.) Additionally, of the three core concepts for community that you mentioned, two should be a given in this type of ministry-based team. Time together and an atmosphere framed by God’s word are necessities in this type of “work”. Trust is built and earned over time and cannot be demanded, therefore it is more tricky than the other two. But we are not people put together for a heartless, spiritless task, we are the first taste of “church” that our contacts have and therefore, if we aren’t adequately demonstrating biblical community, where will they see it and what model will the follow? That of a working group who happens to worship together?
    When you were a field-worker, where did you go for your spiritual community? I’m asking this question sincerely because you have blown me away with this post and personally I can’t see an obvious option or answer to the question of where to find community outside of one’s team. Please help me understand.

    • Your good question requires more than the short answer I can give here. However, let me share a few ideas to further the conversation:

      *What community might look like among another people group is best determined in collaboration with believers from that people group [see Paul Hiebert on this]. If our community as a team is so deep, others may have trouble ‘breaking into’ our community and creating a contextualized community.
      *I’m always amazed at the people God has placed around us. Community is possible with people outside our team, particularly if we don’t restrict potential community members to those of our culture, of our town, or of our agency.
      *Community is a ‘growth’ structure. I do not come with jiust my ideas of community, but learn what community will look like as I interact with those who are part of my community.

      I may not be truly responding to your question, but those are some initial thoughts that come to mind.

      • Sorry if the question was too big. I appreciate that answer and think there is deep value in opening our hearts to the idea of sharing our faith within a diverse community. And personally, we did experience community with people outside of our team, but not spiritual community, at least not in the first 3 years. I guess I’m just thinking about the possibility of “dying on the vine” in the event that one can’t find community outside of (or even on) their team.

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