One thing I notice about church in this generation is that it’s really easy to show up on Sunday, hang out for a couple of hours, then leave without really knowing anyone any more than when you got there. You could really not even talk to anyone.
I guess that’s fine for those who want their “church life” to stay in its place—at church.
But what if you and I seek a close-knit community of fellow believers; a community that knows each other beyond the names of spouses and children. A community that knows what each others dreams, passions, fears, and struggles look like.
Many churches make valiant attempts to foster this kind of community with small groups, Bible studies, retreats, one-on-one mentoring, and short-term mission trips. Yet even when this is done well, most of us still tend to view that as our “church” community or friends.
But what about a community that goes beyond knowing each other? A community that fights for the same cause. A community of believers who understand that they have a common mission; that each person possesses gifts for the purpose of accomplishing that mission.
What is the secret to that kind of community of believers?
Having a common cause helps, but there is something different that melds a community together that resembles a covenant relationship; one that will stick together through anything.
What I think the secret is might surprise you.
Come and suffer with us. Join our church, and you will face persecution. We will train disciples to live a life of sacrifice. We send our people into the toughest, most dangerous places to share about the love of Christ!
Probably not a good marketing strategy to get people to attend your church.
Here is the disconnect:
Today we call people to an experience that will entertain, comfort, and take care of you and your family. Churches are interested in numbers, so the last thing they will do is tell you that if you join them you will face suffering and persecution.
And, so, our relationships end up “Bleh”. As long as we can agree, get along, and not challenge each other too much, we can have “community”.
What if a church called us to be a disciple of Christ that is willing to sacrifice, suffer, even face persecution? A community of believers that read God’s Word, pondered it, then lived it; instead of, meeting each week trying to remember what they read and discussed the week before.
That life of a community of disciples would not meet simply because they enjoyed and knew each other—They Would Need Each Other.
When Danielle and I lived in Thailand, we lived in a city of about 250,000. I estimate that less than 2000 were Christians in the city. Not only were most people in the city Buddhist, many lived a pagan lifestyle. The sex trade dominates the city.
When we met, the believers, we needed each other. I have nothing to compare to the depth of relationship I developed with a few believers in a six-month timeframe in that setting. The difference?
Suffering and persecution.
We didn’t fear for our lives, but we did not live in a friendly environment.
I have many good friends here where I live now, but honestly, I long for that close, intimate bond that comes when we pursue His mission together facing whatever comes our way.
I haven’t found anything else on earth like that. Have you?