In Matthew 16:18 Jesus tells us, “I will build my church”—and he has been about that business for the last two thousand years.
As God unfolds redemptive history in his plan to reconcile the world to himself, he has done so by building for himself a people who worship him, love one another, and join him in proclaiming the good news to those who do not know him.
This means that as we are made new in Christ and transformed into the redeemed members of the church, we are also called to participate in this process for others.
This is one of the coolest aspects of being adopted into the family of God, that we are invited into the family business.
Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 28:18–20:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
In this commissioning of the church, he is calling us to continue the work through him and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The church, then, is not a passive club we join but a pursuit that we actively participate in.
At Mars Hill, the most tangible place in which we participate in this commissioned work is in our Community Groups. Jesus uses these groups to continue the work building the church in two distinct ways that we see reflected in the great commission.
1. To Build Up the Church
The first way Community Groups are used to build the church is in the building up of believers. This is the practice of maturing and strengthening the church. As we gather together as a people who love Jesus, encouraging, challenging, and loving one another, we are part of Jesus building the church. We are making disciples as we grow in love and obedience to the Word. This happens in conjunction with the preaching of the Word, but it is also essential that Word take roots in our hearts.
2. To Build Out the Church
Community Groups are also used in the building out of the church. This is the growth of the church through conversion as people encounter Jesus and are made new through the power of his gospel. As we invite our neighbors, friends, and coworkers to enjoy the blessing of community, Jesus uses the witness of a transformed people to open the eyes of the lost to the truth and power of the resurrection. We see examples of this in 1 Peter 2:12 and John 13:34–35 as the love we have for one another and our love for our city bear witness to the work of Jesus.
It is pretty amazing that God invites us into such an amazing business. It is a business of miracles as we get to see new life born in new believers and lives continually transformed by the gospel. And we get a front row seat as God uses our Community Groups to build the church up and out. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get to work!