Written by Jack Coombs
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of St Nic’s.
Throughout Jesus’ life, community was at the centre of everything he did. Although he was often teaching to large crowds and gatherings, he always made sure to have time that he spent alone with his 12 disciples. In this time, they formed relationships with one another and grew together as Jesus taught them. This was paramount to the success of us hearing about the Gospel today. Without the disciples, who could Jesus trust to be prepared and willing enough to the carry out The Great Commission? This small following of 12 ordinary men allowed Jesus to nurture each one individually in spirit and truth so that when the time came that Jesus ascended, they would be equipped as the first messengers in the pursuit to make the Gospel known and make disciples of all nations.
We should be striving to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and in doing this we should form community’s together so that we can Gather, Grow and Go just as Jesus and his disciples did.
Sunday services are amazing, we get to gather as whole congregation to worship God together and hear from his word. However, chatting to people at the end of a service I often feel like we can get to know the surface level of a lot of people but only the heart of a few. Often people just want to catch up with several friends until the desire to rush off for Sunday lunch (Super Sunday football in my case) or to get to bed kicks in and you say goodbye.
This is where small communities thrive as they cultivate an atmosphere where we can have deeper conversations with the same faces each week. This allows us to get to know the lives, struggles, and gifts of our friends rather than only knowing which garden implement they’d be if they had to choose one (the ultimate St Nic’s ice breaker question!). This is also a huge benefit for making new people feel welcome and a part of the church as it gives us a sense of belonging and purpose in the church when we meet as a group that depend on each other for relationship, trust, vision and growth.
How often do you finish a Sunday service and then turn to your friends to discuss the sermon explaining: your thoughts, what you learnt, and how it challenged to think about your faith? This is a rare occurrence on my Sunday, however, that is probably down to the fact that when someone does happen to ask me what my thoughts are, I rather too often give a meagre “yeah it was good.”. Thankfully midweek Community gives me a chance to digest what I’ve heard and think about what I’d like to discuss. As a group we can then delve deeper into the Sunday message and really get to grips of what it means for us and how we can apply it.
It doesn’t just have to be Sunday talks that your group discusses though. Your group has difficulty sharing about Jesus to their non-Christian friends? Why not go through a series on evangelism together? You’ve just had some new Christians join your group? Why not explore Uncover Mark, do A Bible Overview course or perhaps even a mini Alpha?
Your group can adapt teaching to the areas of your journey with Jesus that need work, in order to get the absolute best out of your time and really see each other grow.
The commissioning of Jesus’ disciples was not a mission set out for those few but just as Paul and the early church exampled to us, we too are called to join in this. The purpose of us becoming better disciples of Jesus ourselves is so that we can see our friends come to Christ. The small size of communities makes this a perfect way to invite our friends into a place where they can get to know the rest of your group without feeling swamped by Christians and potentially put off.
Again, this is a chance for your group to work together and play to your strengths! Got the next set of MasterChef champs in your group? Why not put on a dinner party for your friends? Have some board game fanatics that are down at Ludorati every other day? Why not put on a little games evening and bash out some Codenames? Get creative and think about what sort of event your team would be great at and go for it!
Doing mission as a group is great but it begins with gathering, is spurred on by growth and we pray that it ends with our friends seeking relationship with Jesus.
If you want to hear more about communities, on the 23rd October, Fusion will be at student hub to cast the vision and values of a small community, telling us more about the meaning and importance of small groups and how they can be used for us to serve God’s mission. There will also be a chance to hear from the Student Community leaders as well as the chance to a join a group and be commissioned.