There has been so much interest in small group ministry during the first month of my pastoral role here at Commonwealth Chapel, that we decided to host a one-night event where group leaders and those wanting to join groups could all connect at once. It was s smashing success as almost 150 people filled our auditorium, chatted around tables, met new friends, and signed up to attend a group. We called it “Community Group Connect!”, and that is exactly what happened! My teaching that night focused on two key elements to healthy community; truth and love. Here’s my notes:
Fred Buechner: “You can survive on your own; can grow strong on your own; prevail on your own; but you cannot become human on your own.”
In the overall context of Commonwealth Chapel, we see two main elements that play key roles in facilitating deep, formative community; they are TRUTH and LOVE.
Truth and Love…
Eph. 4:14-16 (NIV)
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the TRUTH in LOVE, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in LOVE, as each part does its work.
No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole TRUTH and tell it in LOVE—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in LOVE.
1 Thes. 5:12 (NIV)
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you (TRUTH!),
who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love (LOVE!) because of their work. Live in peace with each other (LOVE!). 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive (TRUTH!), encourage the disheartened (LOVE!) help the weak (LOVE!), be patient with everyone (LOVE!). 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong (TRUTH!), but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else (LOVE!).
6 Loves….3 Truths… might be a good model? Truth and love are married together, but not quite the image of two hands with interlocking fingers. Truth is more like a fist, and love is like a hand over that fist. It filters every action. We ask at every turn; “is this loving?”
Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.
• This is what wisdom will be
• Wisdom is timely, appropriate words
• Speaking truth puts things in order
And love covers all. There is faith and hope…but the greatest of these is love.
This led to discussions around the tables, prompted by these questions:
-In which one of these areas [truth and love] do you feel the most comfortable or excited to experience?
-In which one of these areas do you feel least comfortable? Why?
-What are the ways you anticipate feeling challenged in community life?