As a community of grace, we live in authentic relationships with followers of Jesus that others may hear and be transformed by the power of the Gospel. Community groups are essential and foundational to our personal transformation. We believe that we learn to enjoy God, magnify grace, love others, understand Scripture, live in integrity, advance the Gospel, and depend on the Spirit all through being a part of a community group. Jesus modeled these values for us, and our priorities for groups are born out of these values.
Here are four reasons why we believe community matters:
1. We get to intentionally help those within our groups realign their lives with God’s mission and purpose for our lives.
God is calling people to himself every day. We know that the harvest is plentiful. We know that God’s word does not come back void. However, we quickly forget we are God’s plan A to take the good news to the world. We're here so that others may hear and believe the Gospel. We have been invited into God’s ministry of reconciliation, his plan for taking the good news to the world. This is a simple but profound truth and should shape everything we do! It’s so easy to get caught up in the “tyranny of the urgent,” losing sight of this mission and the loving command Jesus left us. Community is essential in bringing each other back to this truth. It’s critical in bringing each other back to why we are still here. Together we can call each other back to this mission while helping each other realign our lives around this mission. Community is the space where this happens. We were never intended to do this alone.
2. Within community groups, we can disciple and motivate one another for life change with the power of the Gospel.
Community groups are uniquely designed for followers of Christ to grow as his disciples. Growth is not something that happens alone. Throughout Scripture, there are examples of believing communities that gather together to spur one another on as the race is run with endurance. Here are just a few:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.” (Acts 2:42-46)
”Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” Jesus said to cast our cares upon him. Likewise, we get to care for one another as he cares for us by supporting the needs of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
Small gatherings of believers are where we share what the Lord is doing in our lives. We share where we're growing and what we're struggling with personally. Often, God takes us through hard things for the sake of others. So, often the valleys in our lives open doors into others' lives. We disciple others in community groups and are discipled ourselves. Community is where believers grow and help others grow. It's where we discover that life isn't about us and the gospel is bigger than us. It's where we find that our smaller stories take shape within God’s larger story.
3. We get to care for one another as Jesus cares for us by supporting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of others.
It's no secret that we live in an increasingly lonely, isolated, and unhappy society. We're continuously seeking fulfillment in places that will only rob us of what's promised. We live in a relational wasteland where conversations skim the surface, and the pains of the heart are ignored. Our counselors are at capacity, anxiety, and depression are rampant, and, what's worse, this is in the church. Small gatherings of believers such as community groups are places where our hurts, worries, and fears are laid at the foot of the cross.
Caring for the needs of others and loving your neighbor as yourself is a Scriptural imperative and how we support each other. Community groups focus on this, but this does not apply to group members only, but also those outside of the groups. The church’s scope is larger than only fellow followers of Christ. Certainly care for others in the body, but we live in a sin-sick world. We are surrounded by physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. A group is precisely where we can be about the ministry of reconciliation in the spheres of influence God has placed us.
4. Community groups create intentional time spent communicating with and investing in one another to unify one another through various life phases.
Every person walking through the doors of a church on a Sunday has people they do life with regularly. There are people who, if we went to the hospital, would be there for us without hesitation. If you break down on the side of the road, they would come to your rescue. These are relationships that provide community and are ultimately shaping us into something.
Then the question becomes... shaping us into what and a community centered around what? For many, it's community-centered around good values: family, kids, activities, food. This list could go forever. These things are not bad but are they best? All of what a believer does should be formed and shaped by the Gospel; by the good news of the grace, we have received because of Jesus.
Groups are spaces of intentionality marked by authentic relationships, passing through the superficial to the fertile soil of the heart where we can celebrate what God is doing and celebrate what he has done. We see the mature investing in the next generation, the next generation learning from those who have gone before, this is where we put aside our preferences for unity in Scripture. Different generations investing is a beautiful thing; a married couple can learn from a single person, empty nesters can encourage parents. You don't have to walk the same path to point a fellow disciple to Jesus. Ultimately, groups are where we partner together to further the gospel because of the Gospel.
If by reading this, you’ve found that you’d like to either join or lead a community group, head to fellowshipgreenville.org/communitygroups for more information on both training and leading.
*We are a church located in Greenville, South Carolina. Our vision is to see God transform us into a community of grace passionately pursuing life and mission with Jesus.*
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Zac was born in Greenville and grew up here at Fellowship Greenville. He played tennis for Clemson University graduating with a B.S. Management degree. He graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters in Divinity in Christian Ministry. He worked for three years in accounting as a CPA. Zac is passionate about the glory of God and making disciples who make disciples. He now is blessed with the opportunity to love, serve, and support community groups here at Fellowship Greenville.