Tag: Gospel Centered Missional Community (page 1 of 2)

Walking Together Toward Community: Cultivation

Cultivation

Cultivate disciples who make disciples.

Gospel Centered Community (GCC): a body of committed believers, connected by a shared purpose and vision to see Jesus glorified and who challenge each other into deeper relationships with Jesus and one another.

Gospel Centered Missional Community (GCMC): the practical outworking of GCC and is focused on cultivating disciples who make connected disciples.

I call the process for growing into community The Walk and it looks like this:

The Walk

This is the third and final post in which we will examine the committed actions, and their associated elements, for developing community. In this post, we will examine Cultivation:

The committed action of Cultivation is:

 We will cultivate disciples who make connected disciples by sacrificing our time, resources, and self.

Cultivate Disciples who Make Connected Disciples

I changed the word for this final, committed action at least five times. The intent in action never changed, but I struggled to find a word to fit the message. I chose cultivation and not just because it alliterates. Cultivate is defined as:

1. To develop or improve by education or training, 2. to promote the growth or development of, and 3. to devote oneself to developing or growing.

When a community commits to cultivation, they devote themselves to developing and promoting the growth of disciples who make disciples. In committing to developing others, we honor Jesus’ call to be His witness to a lost and dying world.

When we honor His call, we take part in His commission to make disciples. Making disciples:

  • Moves you from GCC into GCMC
  • Moves you from the experience of growing found in GCC, into the experience of living with a mind and heart set on Jesus’s mission found in GCMC.
  • In GCC we enjoy receiving the love of God, and in GCMC we learn to reveal it to others. If we do not cultivate a mission-minded heart, we cannot fully experience the abundant life Christ promised.

The heart of living in GCMC is a commitment to a life of sacrifice, so others have an avenue to connect to Jesus and community.

By Sacrificing our Time, Resources and Self

Time

When I mention sacrificing your time for your community, if your first thought is “I have no time,” then you need to reevaluate how you spend your time. Or, you may need to realize you are not ready to commit to GCMC. Living in authentic, gospel-centered community, and making disciples requires much of you, including your time. As our example for growing disciples, Jesus dedicated three years of his life and was always with them. This should clue us into the time investment required for making and growing people for the sake of the kingdom.

Resources

Few Christians would argue with the truth that God calls us to be generous with our finances. Whether or not you agree with tithing is irrelevant. Sacrificing your resources in the context of GCMC goes far beyond giving 10% of your income to a local church. Sharing your resources is the practice of maintaining an open hand with ALL God has blessed you with. We can look at Acts 2:45 and see Christians selling everything and doling out the proceeds to people according to their need. This was a generosity in which the Christians divorced themselves from ownership of property that would appear to be theirs, and viewed it as God’s. Because of this view, they were able to honor Jesus by decreasing others’ burdens.

Self

We can use any number of scriptural references to talk about sacrificing ourselves for the sake of our Christian community. However, we must recognize the most important aspect of self-sacrifice is love. Jesus, and later the Apostles, continuously exhort Christians to love one another. Self-sacrifice will always spring out of love for Jesus, and by proxy, our love for each other. When we sacrifice ourselves, for the sake of our brothers/sisters, we identify ourselves with Christ and His sacrifice. One of the best descriptions of love like this is in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

How is this Biblical

A heart of sacrifice is easy to see, in the early church, when we read Acts 2:42-47. Verse 45 is the clearest evidence of the early Christian’s willingness to sacrifice. In that verse, we read they “were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” This verse makes clear that they viewed their resources as a means to diminish the needs of those around them, both believer and unbeliever. We find their commitment to growing as a community in the time they invested into being with each other. Verses 42, 44, and 46 tell us that all the believers were together every day, attending the temple and sharing meals.

The time they invested was a sacrifice. They gave themselves up to grow others in Christ, and advance the Gospel. And to what end? For the sake of making disciples as Christ commissioned them to do. And that was their purpose. All of their charity, generosity, invested time, and willingness to give themselves for the sake of Christ drew people to God. Their commitment to cultivating disciples had a noticeable impact as “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

photo: Don Caywood

Walking Together Toward Community: Challenge

Challenge

Challenge One Another to Walk as Christ.

Gospel-Centered Community (GCC): a body of committed believers, connected by a shared purpose and vision to see Jesus glorified, and who challenge each other into deeper relationships with Jesus and one another.

Gospel-Centered Missional Community (GCMC): the practical outworking of GCC. Focuses on cultivating disciples who make connected disciples.

I have named the process for growing into community The Walk, and it looks like this:

The Walk

This second of three posts will discuss the committed actions, and their associated elements, for developing community. So what does challenge mean in this context? It is foremost, a committed action

The committed action of Challenge may be read as:

We challenge each other to seek God, unity, and good-will; and to submit to the Word, one another, and the body so that we may walk as Jesus walked.

Challenging Each Other to walk as Jesus Walked

People say they appreciate when someone challenges them, but if we are honest, we prefer for others not to challenge us. At our very core, we refuse challenge and view it as either rejection or a sign of contempt. In fact, if you read quotes about challenge, many of them speak to “overcoming challenge” and “victory in spite of challenge.” Challenge is often interpreted as a hurdle we need to overcome.

That is not the role of challenge within GCC. In fact, it is out of love for other members of our community that we challenge them. Challenge is practiced within the context of community, to “invite each other to take part in” growing more deeply into Jesus. Specifically, it is the call of Hebrews 10:24-25 to “stir up one another to love and good works” and “encourage one another” so that we may walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). By challenging each other through “teaching and admonishing in all wisdom” (Col 3:16) we spur one another on toward Christ. And what is it the practice we hope to inspire? The practice of seeking and submitting to our Savior.

To seek God, unity, and good-will

God

Finding God ought to be simple for most Christians to understand, even if they do not do it consistently. When we seek to know God, we are better able to see Christ clearly. When we see Christ clearly, we allow His light to shine on the areas of our life where we fall short of His glory. In knowing those areas, we can present them to God, in repentance, for righteousness sake. A community of people who love you, will challenge you to seek God, both individually and corporately continually. As a community, we must commit to challenging each other to seek God with our whole heart.

Unity

Unity is grander than agreement on all issues. Instead it leads to a community joined in heart and mind for the sake of Truth, Christ, and love for one another. Ultimately, unity manifests the agreement to participate as citizens of the same Kingdom, under the Lordship of Christ. As a community, we must commit to encouraging each other to seek unity among ourselves.

Good-will

Seeking good-will has to do with those outside of your Christian community. This includes not only your brothers and sisters in Christ but everyone you interact with on a daily basis. We are good stewards of the God-given grace we experience when we extend it to those outside our gathering. We must seek to build and maintain a reputation that causes others to “recognize that [we] have been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). As a community, we commit to challenging each other to seek the good-will of those around us.

Submit to the Word, One Another, and the Body

The Word

When we speak of submission in the biblical sense, we are not talking about forced subservience. Instead, biblical submission is the willingness to yield to another’s will or authority, especially Jesus’. In the opening sentences of his gospel account, The Apostle John identifies Jesus as The Word (John 1:1-5.) In this context, Christian community carries forward that revelation by submission to Jesus as the spoken Word of God. Therefore, a community seeking to walk like Christ challenges one another to submit to the entire counsel of God found in the Bible.

One Another

Christians commonly refer to this type of submission as “accountability.” Unfortunately, accountability is only as useful as you are honest with each other. Too often, shame, guilt, or pride, coupled with the lack of authentic Christian community, prevents real accountability. In GCC, members commit to challenging each other to be in individual submission to one another. This does not mean that you submit individually to all 30 members of the community. What it does mean is you commit yourself in mutual submission to a few chosen people. Once you intentionally invest in relationships with the purpose of all members giving and yielding to the wisdom of Christ, submission will mature.

The Body

Submission to the body is yielding to the movement of the Holy Spirit in the context of community. It centers on mutual trust that your fellow Saints are seeking God and His wisdom. It has to do with taking issues and concerns to God in a corporate and communal setting and then trusting the collective wisdom. And why do we practice submitting to one another? “Out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21).

How is this Biblical?

Acts 2:42-47 provides us with a clear picture of the early church challenging each other through seeking and submission. This passage tells us how the members “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship.” In this single verse, we see a community making a commitment to seek both God and unity among themselves. They did this by submission to teaching, attending temple together, and eating in each others’ homes (verse 46).

Verse 44 shows additional evidence of their commitment to unity and submission. It tells us the believers were together and had all things in common, indicating their willingness to maintain one heart and mind in one Spirit. Submission was a key ingredient in their community. But not necessarily submission to the apostle’s authority, but rather to the word of God spoken over them.

Lastly, in verse 47, we see their willingness to seek the good-will of those around them. Many biblical commenters agree that “having favor with all the people” means the believers garnered the respect of all individuals, even the unbeliever. This respect was gained through their piety as followers of Christ and their unrestrained generosity and charity. In fact, charity was not confined solely to their community; but was all-embracing and extensive. Verse 45 says, “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” We understand this generosity not being restricted to only believers, as the verse indicated “as any had need.”

Challenging each other, as a community, to seek and submit will always result in walking as Jesus walked. The Word of God has provided us with a clear understanding and attitude on how to engage, love, and submit to our brothers and sisters. Day by day, what may first feel like an exercise, will grow into a habit, and ultimately reward us with a practice of embracing challenge for the sake of the Kingdom and relationship with our Savior.

Walking Together Toward Community: Connection

Connection

Connection to other believers.

Gospel-Centered Community (GCC): a body of committed believers, connected by a shared purpose and vision to see Jesus glorified, and who challenge each other into deeper relationship with Jesus and one another.

Gospel-Centered Missional Community (GCMC): the practical outworking of GCC, focused on cultivating disciples who make connected disciples.

I call the process for growing into community The Walk and it looks like this:

The Walk

This is the first of three posts to discuss committed actions, and their associated elements, for developing community.

In this post we will flesh out the action of Connection. The committed action of Connection can be read as:

We will connect ourselves to each other by gathering around a shared heart, purpose, and vision.

Connecting Ourselves to Each Other…

At its most basic “to connect” simply means to join or unite. In this context it does mean that, but it also carries a much deeper opportunity. Christians who intentionally commit to being connected to one another bind themselves together as one body under the headship of Jesus. They are communicating to each other, and others, their desire for unity with that group of people. This is less about a signed “covenant” or membership application and more about allowing the Holy Spirit to draw and bind their hearts to one another. In the drawing and binding of connection the practice of loving each other (John 13:34) is learned and applied. And, in obeying Jesus’ new command, a community is bound more tightly together.

Gathered before Scattered

Connection in the context of GCC is grander than simple association. We have connections to others in many aspects of our lives. We connect with people at work, other parents in our children’s class, and the barista at our favorite coffee joint. While these are important relational connections, and a topic for the post on Cultivation, they do not provide the same intimacy or authenticity as Christian community. For it to be authentic Christian community, our connection to other believers must be focused on unity in Christ. And because it is Christ who gathers us, it is important to know what we value as a community. Those things that we chose to gather around, are the elements that uphold our commitment to intentionally connect with a specific body.

We commit to gathering around:

A Shared Heart

This is the core of what draws you together as a community. Identifying the nature of your community, and why you gather, will help anchor you to Christ and each other.

A Shared Purpose

This is about your mission. Why do you exist as a community? Of course the foundation for your existence as a community is Jesus, but why else? It is important to define how Jesus’ mission translates, in a practical sense, to your community.

A Shared Vision

This is about where you are going as a community. When developing vision ask questions like: What does growth look like? How will you multiply? What would a corporate gathering be like?

These elements will not only help a community uphold their commitment to each other, but will also move them forward into the commitment of challenging each other.

How is this Biblical

As mentioned in the last post, the primary passage of scripture for this process is Acts 2:42-47. This entire passage is replete with the followers of Jesus committing to remain connected to each other. The passage begins with verse 42 declaring, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship” (emphasis added). This passage reveals their commitment to continual communion with one another. Their communion was grander than what is common to our current culture. For them, communion was deeply intimate and reveals their affection, need for and enjoyment of each other.

But verse 42 is not the only indication of this. Verse 44 says, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common” (emphasis mine). This is an important verse and is how God lead me to these elements a community can gather around. The saints chose to gather and maintain a collective heart and mind. This is the unity that multiple New Testament verses mention (1 Cor 1:10, Eph 4:13, John 17:23). They gathered around a shared heart for Jesus and each other. They had a shared purpose for building the body up and equipping each other to do the work of the ministry. And, they shared a vision to see Jesus glorified and others brought into the Kingdom.

Verse 46 tells us, “And day by dayattending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts” (emphasis added). The Saints gathered to worship and eat together daily. It was not a Sunday and Wednesday type of gathering. Their gathering was not from a sense of duty. Instead, it was out of their affection for one another that they would gather.

Much Together

Three out of those five verses repeat the point that the saints were together, constantly, day by day, eating and worshiping together. They made a commitment to remain connected and gathered in complete unity. And, their focus was not simply to be around like-minded people. Their connection was more than mere proximity. Their connection was about communal transformation in Christ. This connection also drove them toward challenging each other. In his commentary, Matthew describes the importance and benefit of their unity by saying, “they were much together.”

When a group of believers commit to each other, they are much together. And there is much for Jesus to manifest Himself.

photo: Elly van Laar
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