It sounds so easy, right? Well, at least it’s easy right up until you are the one involved.
A couple months ago the community group I lead planted a new group. The plant made sense, a Godly couple was ready to lead, people were excited about it, the details worked out pretty smoothly…but it was still hard. A lot of our friends ended up going to the other group. We had spent a lot of time with these people. We were close to them. And while we’re still friends, the realities are different. Maybe you’ve had the same experience. Maybe you’ve had really bad experiences. I think one of the biggest challenges to our vision to multiply and plant new groups is the tension of relationships and change.
What do you want when you think about relationships in the church? Oftentimes, my orientation for relationships in the church has been to try and find the perfect formula of relationships that makes my life easy, enjoyable, and fulfilling. I want to find people that are easy to be around, who are committed to staying in this area, who encourage me, who really know and care for me, who are fun, etc. Once I find these relationships, I want to keep them. Actually, if I’m honest, I really want to bring them into my house, lock the door, and put a “we are full” sign on the door so no one tries to separate us or change the perfect dynamic that I’ve created.
Relationships are wonderful gifts from God. We are saved to be apart of his family. But just like any other gift from God, we can twist it into something from which we derive our trust and security. My energies can easily turn to trying to ensure that nothing changes, instead of trusting that God will always and completely provide for me.
Here’s the thing. I don’t think the church should be a bunch of small closed groups. The church is the ever-expanding family of God with a Father who loves to bring more and more people into it. Does your view of relationships reflect this? Do you have a desire and excitement to see more and more non Christians and new Christians added to the church community? Or are you more inclined to try and find the relationships you need and then put on blinders? This does not mean that you can’t maintain or continue close relationships you have. I think it is helpful and good to have one or two close friends. But it is about an orientation. Does your love for others compel you to think through how they can experience what you have?
I think we can easily forget where we are in the redemptive story. In this story, we are in the “in between time”. Where God has renewed desires in our hearts for relationship and rest that will only be fulfilled when he returns. We taste it here, we occasionally see it, but we are not home yet. What we long for is heaven. So we rejoice when we experience close, intimate relationships, we should desire them, but this is not the end.
While we wait for heaven, our God is still working. He is still revealing his glorious gospel to people who have never heard it before and He is still maturing Christian’s understanding of himself. Our role is not to sit idly by, hoping our relationships and life don’t change. We get to participate in this exciting mission. And he’s given us a community to do it with.
As you think about community groups in Redeemer,
– Pray that God would give you an excitement and willingness to participate in multiplying our efforts as we plant new groups
– Pray that God would give us a commitment to one another
– Pray that many non-Christians and new Christians will come to our community groups
– Pray that God would raise up new leaders to plant new community groups
– Pray that the Gospel would continue to spread in Arlington and DC.