I recently finished reading The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons. It’s one of those books that moves you in multiple directions. For me, the book gave me a vocabulary for some of the very same observations I’m making about life and what it means to be a Christ-follower today. It’s also representative of a changing environment where our assumptions can’t stay the same if we are going to expect to continue to engage with the world around us.
Things like denominational imperialism or Christian ghettos designed to predict, prompt, and protect from the “evil outside world” simply aren’t attractive or even consistent with what the next Christians desire, are passionate about, or even dream to become. That’s a completely new paradigm.
(Note: If you don’t already know, I live in Colorado. It’s outside the area of the US affectionately known as “the Bible Belt.” Few people care about the same things I grew up thinking were embedded into the fabric of society...things like owning a Bible, going to church, and listening to Christian [sic] music. What they do care about is this: community.)
Grounded in what I read in Gabe’s book coupled with my experience, here are some characteristics about community that underline for me why community is so important in the first place:
- Community begins with a common goal or vision. It’s not about finding people just like you or me. It’s an intentional decision to do life together along a journey through which you are moving in the same direction.
- Without the common bond of like-minded friends, there is little to no hope to make an impact on the world. Community fosters relational equity.
- The Disciples were a community. Jesus called them to serve TOGETHER. While Jesus periodically enjoyed times of solitude, He was usually spending His time hanging out with people and sharing meals in community with His friends and family.
Community matters BIG TIME, and the next Christians will have to find the intersection between life and faith. However, it doesn’t happen by accident. It requires several key ingredients to work well and be effective: relational intimacy, proximity, and serving others together.
We will unpack these ingredients in the next several posts.
How important do you think living in community is for those who claim to be Christ-followers?