A Gospel Community is not a Social Club
When I was 28 weeks pregnant last year, my father passed away... 7000 miles from me.
And, I wasn't able to attend his funeral because of preterm labor; I needed to be on bed rest.
While the circumstances were not easy, God surrounded me and my family with people that uplifted us in lots of prayers. They took care of my family's physical needs like meals and laundry. They watched my then-18-month-old. They were (and still are) my Gospel community.
What is a Gospel community and how is it different from a social club?
A Gospel community is intentionally doing life together in God's Grace and Truth.
Different from a social club where conversations only go skin deep, a Gospel community builds deeper relationships. It shares your joy when life is good, it weeps with you when life is tough.
It is where hard questions are asked because they care about you, it is where they will bend over backwards to serve you because they love you.
Such community is a reflection of Christ's followers as one body of church. We all have different functions, gifts and talents but we all work beautifully together when we seek to give God the most glory - that is why we need Gospel community in our lives.
Why do we need a gospel community?
Together as ONE body, we learn more about the Scriptures from the ones gifted in teaching; we are encouraged by those who are aptly with their words; we are more motivated to live out the Gospel by those who are natural leaders. We are stronger as one unit and that is a beautiful design ordained by God. If you should say that you don't need such a community, you are going against God's intention.
How has Gospel community influenced my spiritual growth?
For me, most of my spiritual growth probably comes from being involved in a Gospel community. (And I must say that I've been very blessed with Christ-centered communities since becoming a believer 7 years ago.)
From the very beginning when I was still a new Christ follower, I was given a journal for my prayer time. God knew what I needed to grow in prayers. I wrote out my thoughts and prayers day after day, it was (and still is) the best way I connect with God. My dear friend who led me to Christ taught me so much about the Bible, about how to pray, about what it looks like to be a godly woman, to live out the Gospel. She has blessed my walk with Jesus in tremendous ways.
I've also loved the diversity from my communities. I've watched parents discipline their children in gracious but truthful ways. I've seen what it looks like for a married couple to pursue God together, to build a family upon the Cornerstone. The legacy they are building for the Gospel not only gets passed on to their children, but also to fellow Christians who are seeking to do what's right in God's eyes.
How do we find a Gospel community?
Do you want a group of people who love you and make you love God more? A tribe that supports you in any way they can? Now, you might be thinking, "where do I find such an awesome community?!"
Start with your local churches - go to their websites and look at their statement of faith. Do they view the Bible as the Word of God without error? Do they believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? When their belief aligns with the Gospel, reach out and see if they have small groups within their congregation. Ask if you could visit the small groups so you can find one that fits well for you and your family.
Building your own Gospel community - sometimes you might be in an area that lacks Gospel communities, if that's the case you might wanna prayerfully consider building your own. Before you panic and run the other way, let me reassure you that it doesn't take a gifted leader to build a Gospel community. All it takes is a commitment to live out your oneness as a body of Christ. If you have a home, will you consider opening your home and welcoming other brothers and sisters in Christ? Will you intentionally seek out other believers and do life with them? If you take that initiative in building a community that gives God glory, I believe God will bless you.
One extra note - Don't feel like you have to have a close relationship with someone already to have a Gospel community with them. A lady that gave us a meal when I was on bed rest last year, I hardly ever talked to her. I didn't really know her personally and yet she showed love thru sending us a wonderful meal of spaghetti and meatballs. I'm forever grateful for her action and I won't forget that.