Christian community is where you find it: Sunday takeout

Since sermons often prompt serious thought, I thought it would be worth trying to add an extra day of posts on sermon reflections.

Pastor Terry Bryant discussed the need for Christian community to keep us on track, using Heb. 3: 12-13 as the focal text:

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 

Christian community as church small group

If the sermon had a single goal, it was to engage more members in Life Groups, our church’s version of the small support group, as a place to “do life together.” These are to be where we know and care about one another well enough to challenge and nurture each other as God intends.

I am a strong believer in a Christian community outside of Sunday morning. Small groups that “graduate” every 18 months don’t necessarily describe it for me — in part, because we live 25 minutes from church. (We had bought our home before this church hired my husband.) It’s hard to know anyone well who lives a half-hour away. When my husband was hospitalized a number of years ago, it was members of a prior church, close to our home, who brought meals and loaned us a recliner because he couldn’t sleep flat.

Christian community as churches working together

We have another friend who is busy organizing the churches in her city (Durham, NC) to work together to meet the needs of people in the city’s public housing communities. Bless Durham, as it is called, isn’t an effort of churches, it is the work of the church of God. hands, feet, and head together.

And I guess that’s the main thing I’m thinking about church small groups. I really do want to live closely with other Christians. That is, by definition, who we are as Christians. Before Jesus was born, there was a large, extended family called Israel that had a special relationship with God and special responsibilities to each other as a result of that relationship with God. We, as Christians, are just adopted members of that huge family. Our special responsibilities to each other aren’t just measured through a small group in a local congregation, but through engagement in the big family God heads, which is also ours.

Christian community as … the closest Christians?

I want to reach a point where I can know people in my congregation well enough to encourage them daily. But from this distance, it may be that I need to work out ways to give and take my encouragement from my neighbors: Mae, who cares for our cats when we travel; from Reggie and his wife, with whom we share business development tips; from Joe and Jacki, who have been neighborhood leaders for longer than we’ve lived here.

Have you found a Christian community of support and challenge? Where and how?

About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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2 Responses to Christian community is where you find it: Sunday takeout

  1. Heidi Smid says:

    Thanks for this Carlene. It’s something I’ve thought of often. God provides community in so many ways outside of whatever church we happen to be part of. For me and my family, it’s been through the homeschool group that I’ve been part of for more than 12 years now. That is where I invest in others, speak into their lives, and they do the same with me. I see Christ-like parenting and loving and dealing with conflict modeled, and recognize that God also has something for me to share with those in this group. It’s also the platform from which we minister to people outside of the homeschool group. Of course, over that many years, the group has morphed and changed, and yet – it has continued to be the place where I have found true Christian community.
    Level of involvement in a church is not necessarily a measure of your walk with the Lord or your involvement in Christian community – there are other resources that God provides when the local church itself is not a source for true community, no matter the reason.

    • I think you’re exactly right. The local church” is much bigger than the congregation that meets at one building. God invited us to join the family that once was just Israel. That expansive, extended family has members everywhere. And we’re ALL called to be the “church” (the MOVEMENT) of God wherever we are.

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