Discipleship in Community Groups

12 Apr

On the front lines of Christian life and ministry are community group.  Microcosms of the larger church, community groups bring together people from diverse backgrounds.  People of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, and socioeconomic groups come together.  These groups magnify the glorious diversity and unity of the church grounded in the Gospel.  It is here that life is done together, flowing out in growth in godliness, and engagement with the world.

Character is revealed, and ministry gifts and capabilities are put to use through the sharing of meals and conversations.  Parents model what Gospel-centered families look like.  The old pass on wisdom to the young.  The singles disclose what its like to be pure, and how to be content in Christ.  Much like Paul’s letter to Titus, “Show yourselves in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech.”[1]

Inevitably, though, people will also bring their baggage with them.  Sin will be exposed.  Stresses and difficult circumstances will be revealed.  And tragedies will occur.  In these situations, community groups become beacons of hope and embassies of grace.  Those in a community group have the privilege of discipling each other by coming alongside each other in the good times and bad, disciplining one another according to the standards of God’s Word, and spurring one another on to love and good deeds so that God might be glorified.[2]

Community groups are vital to the building of community in the church, but they also serve a critical role in reaching out to the city in which we live.  We do not live in bubbles; community groups are in communities.  The question is: How are we actively seeking to reach these neighborhoods?  The people in a community group can invite people to join them for dinner, host parties, cookouts or game nights.  These provide great opportunities to build relationships with neighbors.  These relationships may bring about an occasion to share the Gospel with a person, or read the Bible with them so they can better understand Christianity.  Community groups can evaluate the needs of their neighborhoods and pitch in together to fill that need.  The opportunities for ministry abound.

This is but a brief fly over of what community groups bring to the table with regard to communal discipleship.  In these groups, we find character being built and modeled; ministry competencies being strengthened and put into practice; and grace, love, truth and outreach overflowing towards those both inside and outside the group.

[1] Titus 2:7-8a

[2] Hebrews 10:24, 1 Peter 2:11-12


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