Thursday, March 13, 2014

being in community, being real, and redefining church



Last week I shared a little bit about community and how God is redefining church for our family. Since then I can’t get away from it. I find myself ruminating, like the cow and her cud, over the fact that we need one another, the fact that community is very important to God. Therefore it should be important to us. 

Sometimes I don’t seek out community because I want to remain hidden. I don’t want my weakness and vulnerabilities exposed. I don’t want to be seen because I’d much rather hide. 

But our lives are to be hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3); not hidden behind our fears, not hidden behind our faults, not hidden behind our weakness. If we are living hidden in Christ then being exposed and vulnerable with others can become a place of freedom. There is a caveat of course, the ones we are real with must do the same for us. There must be a reciprocity in this kind of community that strives to be real and gut wrenchingly honest with each other, because we know it’s safe and we know we function out of love. That kind of community can be hard to come by, but it’s out there. There are people who long to be real and be seen. 

I don’t really know why we don’t live our lives this way, maybe it’s just that we haven’t learned how yet. Maybe it’s just that we have forgotten what the New Testament means when it tells us to live in community with one another, sharing everything with our fellow Christ followers. That’s why we confess to one another, that’s why we share our messy lives, because we know that true freedom can only be found in being able to be exposed.  

Since we made the transition away from full time ministry, we’ve taken the time to redefine church-at least for our family.

We believe God calls each of his followers to be in community. We believe that community and relationships are the best places for Christ to be revealed. In our fragile and broken bumping into each others lives we learn grace and forgiveness and how to love as Christ loved. And isn’t that how he is made visible to those who don’t know him? We also believe church is not a building or an event, it’s us. We, as Christ followers, are the church. Because of that church should happen where life happens, in all it’s messy glory. Because that’s where God shines, in the midst of messes and life and all of that. 

Zac and I love the traditional church. We value it, and know that it meets many needs and brings many to God’s kingdom. And we love the people we are connected to in our local church. And yet, we feel God is asking us to do things differently. We want to develop a community that will be real with each other. We want to be a part of small group that shares life together, making disciples of each other as we do. We are pursuing home church because we feel like it will best allow us to pursue what’s most important to us. And also, we are pursuing home church because of it’s simplicity. We can meet anywhere, in homes and coffee shops and wherever else life happens. Without a building to maintain we can spend more of ourselves in outreach and community projects. The simplicity of it makes it easy to duplicate as well, and we believe that this kind of thing could multiply quickly. 

This isn’t a mandate on how there is only one way to be the church. I realize that there are 1001 ways to do church, and ours is just one option. It’s not a matter of one being wrong or right. It’s a matter of the kind of life that God is calling us to right now, a life of community and a life of simplicity. 

And as painful as it can sometimes be, I want to be seen and known and challenged by other believers. I want to really share life with others who are on the same journey that I am. I don't want to be a hider anymore, I want to join with others and pursue freedom together. 

How about you, how do you pursue community in your own life? And if you haven't, why not?

4 comments:

  1. We've pretty much done it all. Nothing beats real, raw community, though. We're currently attending a very traditional, conservative church, but we're also "double dipping" by meeting with some other friends and their church when we can manage to show up at their meetings that don't conflict with ours. It's hard, but we need more than what our church can offer us. However, we really crave the stability for our kids that we have in the traditional setting. We've hosted house church, attended house church on and off for years, and that's really where our hearts are. Maybe one day we'll be back into it full time. Til then, we're making what we have work. Blessings you as you walk this journey!

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    1. Sometimes it's important to bloom where you're planted and be steady there. And I get it about the kids, they're just as important in your journey!

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  2. Gina! I am still keeping up with your blog and I love the new look! =) I loved this post too because this is exactly where our heart has been more and more lately too. I look forward to seeing where He is leading you guys and the ministry that you'll have. And one of these days we need to re-connect in person I think. =)

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    1. Thanks Kristen! I'm amazed at how much we've heard that same thing-it seems like God is speaking the same message to a lot of people. And I'd love to reconnect with you sometime :)

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