Resurgence just released their latest book by Brad House, Community Group Guide , which works as a companion to his book, Community . Read an excerpt from the guide below and find out why Mars Hill Church does community through their Community Groups.
Before we ask how to do community, we must ask ourselves why we do community. If we don’t have a clear understanding of why we are in community in the first place, our groups will be lifeless. Growth, retention, belonging, and health are important byproducts of community, but they are just that: byproducts. We cannot take the good fruit of healthy, gospel-saturated community and make it the purpose.
The foundational reason, the why, for church community is to image God and proclaim the good news of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross. Community is a declaration of the overwhelming love of God, a tangible proclamation of the reconciling work of the cross. This is a truly compelling reason to build Community Groups within our Mars Hill churches. This is the bigger purpose that can inspire real community. Community groups are a living illustration of the gospel and its power to save. The world needs this, and so does your church.
Community Is Not Optional
Community groups are essential to the Christian life because we were created for community. We were built to function in relationship with one another and with God. We are able to do so through the grace and reconciliation made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Community, therefore, is an expression of who God is in Trinitarian relationship and a testimony to his love in redeeming us as a people through Jesus.
We must conclude that if God created community for this purpose, it should be an essential part of every Christian’s life. The marginalization of community within the church and culture has not come from conviction but from apathy and isolation brought on by sin. Isolation is our response to sin. Community is our response to reconciliation.
Community Rooted in the Cross
When we don’t ask why we have community, it becomes a secondary function of the church rather than the primary vehicle through which God moves and makes his glory known. To resuscitate life in the community of God, we must reestablish the foundational purpose of community. We must root it in the cross.
If we want to take our small group communities off life support, we need to go to the source. We need the atoning work of Jesus that brings the dead to life. It is the gospel that plucked us from death, and it is the gospel that will breathe life into our anemic communities.
The inspiration for community is the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is the glimpse of his glorious return. It is the power over sin. It is his victory over death. As we receive the gift of grace and believe in the promise of what Jesus accomplished, we are compelled by the grace of our Savior to proclaim this great act of love. Living grace-filled lives in a community marked by humility and love, which seeks to reconcile one to another and broken lives to God, is the perfect means for such a proclamation.
Community as a Proclamation
We do not have Community Groups at Mars Hill to close the back door of the church. We do not have groups because people need to belong or we need to care for one another. These are good but secondary effects of authentic community. These effects are not the foundation.
We have Community Groups because we have seen the glory of God and we have been given the grace to live our lives to exalt the Christ. We have Community Groups because we have been reconciled to God and one another. We once were not a people but now we are a people of God’s own possession. We have Community Groups as a proclamation of the goodness of our God and testimony to the completed work of the cross. This is the foundation for gospel-saturated community that will overflow with life.
How will you be able to use this guide in your small group? Brad explains all that in this post.