Healthy, Spiritual Growth in the Community
Today I want to lift up a vision that has the potential to change your life! It is the vision of what a biblically functioning community could do in the 21st century. It is a dimension of health that literally can transform your world, impact your thinking, and radically affect the way you view your church family. This vision of what God can do in a biblically functioning community.
Today we’re going to highlight another aspect of health that “Spiritual Growth happens in Community”.
A healthy life is in meaningful relationship with others where health is given and received.
Groups: We believe every disciple should engage in meaningful relationships with other Christians where authentic love, accountable relationships, and Godly counsel are present.
Getting connected to one another in groups, where those meaningful relationships can take place is really important. It is one of the reasons that we offer so many various programs (give examples here) and activities. We offer connection environments so that relationships can happen. Our goal is to help connect you in relationships so that you move from anonymity to authenticity to community to intimacy with friends... so that we fulfill God’s dream of Friends Helping Friends Follow Christ.
Connections are important in our world. There are already several hundred million people connected to the Internet. Companies are spending hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars–not millions, billions–to lay cable and to put satellites in space in order to connect everybody in the world. Hundreds of thousands of chat rooms, networking groups, and other ways of connecting with people and information exist on the Internet. But, as many people are connected to the Internet, that still doesn’t mean they are connected to one another.
We all know that we need food. We all know that we need vitamins and minerals. We know that we need air. Most of us know that we need sunshine. But most of us don't know that one of the other major factors in your health in life is you need deep human contact. Just as essential as Vitamin C is, the other vitamin c–connectedness is essential to your life. There are many scientific studies that have proved that you have to have this in your life in order to really live and not just exist.
So what do Biblical Community and real life connections look like? Let’s take a look at two microscopic views found in the Bible:
The Early Church
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47).
This is our earliest picture of life in the early church. The model in the Early Church was gathering together for celebration and instruction and then sharing together in homes for ministry and encouragement. That is a pattern that can’t be beat. We simply affirm the truth that the ministries to “one another”(58 times in the NT) can’t be done better anywhere else than in small groups of Christian people. You can’t do this solo! You can know Christ without being in church family, but you can’t be growing without other believers.
2) The Brass Tacks
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited” (Romans 12:9-16).
3) The Real Deal
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.(Ephesians 2:19-21).
One of the challenges that CVC has is to fulfill the Acts 2 vision of a biblical community right here in our own neighborhood. If we connect with one another in groups, with meaningful God-directed relationships, we will demonstrate the love of God in a way that will compel our friends, our family, and our co-workers to say, “I want that!” Our world hungers for connections like that... far more than it even hungers for Internet connections.
Several members of our program staff had a great opportunity to visit a sister church in Rocklin, Calif., Adventure Christian Church. One of the things that God has shown them, as they have grown from nothing to over 3,500 people in worship each weekend in just eight short years is that they must, “Love each person one at a time”. They are passionate about connecting people in relationship to one another so that the NT view of Biblical Community can be experienced in their midst. It was a great model and wonderful challenge to us.
I want to close with just one question. Why should you stay disconnected? Give me one good reason. When a church like this has so much to offer you, why should you stay disconnected? Why should you remain a spectator instead of a participator? God has designed the church to meet all of your basic needs through this spiritual connection. We want to have you connected to others. So, if you are not connected to other people in the kinds of relationships we have described today, I’d like to invite you to just write one word “Yes” on your communication card. You say “yes” and we’ll help connect you with others.