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?