Earthy Means to Flourishing Community
“Community” is simply being with other people. A flourishing community is one where there is mutual, multiplying joy among the members, as a product of being with each other. This is because we humans are hard-wired for joy. We’re created with this innate desire. The only way that any human experiences satisfying joy is in God. Therefore the only truly flourishing community is one where God is shared. God is only shared through the gospel. Thus in our church we pursue “gospel community”: sharing life together, with an intentional focus on the gospel, in the normal rhythm of life.
Those are all pretty heady concepts. But they become real through more earthy concepts. I offer four:
1. The goal in gospel community is not to “meet”. I don’t ask my friends “When shallst we meet next for our next Bible study?” No - I say “Hey, what are the so-and-so’s doing tonight?” Or, (really) just a text: “Dudes . . .” This is why, in so many “small groups”, the best conversations, the ones with the most importance, happen not during the group time, but in the parking lot afterwards. Flourishing community inhabits normal rhythms of life.
2. The pursuit of community is like the pursuit of a good marriage. Some people, when they become empty-nesters, find that they don’t have a marriage anymore, because they stopped working at it and clinging to it when they had kids. In the same way, folks give up on community during the kids years, and never return to it as empty-nesters. To ensure true gospel fellowship later in life, pursue it early on, and cling to it during the kid years.
3. Some of the best conversations about life and the gospel center on our vocation. Ask about others’ vocation. Here are three possibilities: #1 How does God use it to push good into the world? #2 What’s it like? What do you do, exactly? #3 What are your spiritual opportunities in your vocation? How can we pray about that?
4. This is perhaps the most important. Be gospel-centered, and get with others. Really - keep it that simple. Don’t worry about getting “community” just right. There will never be a “just right”. It’s up to you, especially if you don’t have kids at home - you are more free, timewise. It really is up to you. Pray, read your Bible, be yourself, and take a chance - you can’t mess this up. God rewards humble dependence upon Him much more than perfection.