Contending for Community

By - Michael Sitko

Everywhere you go these days it seems people are talking about community and about the importance and value of community. But what is community really? Websters defines community as a, "unified body of individuals; or a group of people with common interests living together within the same area."

It seems everywhere I go these days in the church world everyone seems to be talking about the need for community but when I ask them what that looks like there are so many varying responses to what people believe community is. Some say "Well, you know community is people doing life together." When I ask them what that looks like however, there doesn't seem to be any one specific or clear answer to the question.

From looking at Websters definition, there could be many different forms and types of community. The problem as I see it, is finding a community that truly fills the needs and desire that we all have, to belong. As disciples of Jesus Christ, one of the unique opportunities we have is to engage in a "community on mission".

There is nothing quite as unifying or nearly as fulfilling as being on the same mission as others; there is a synergy, a symbiotic relationship that begins to form and becomes a life source when you come together as people on a common mission. Just prior to Jesus’s ascension to Heaven, He gave His followers a "common mission”, in the form of what we know as the Great Commission. Every follower of Christ is called to the same common mission, and in that mission we have the capacity and opportunity to have community.

The power of the early church was not just in the supernatural signs, wonders and miracles that they did through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, but it was also in the fact that they were of one mind and one heart. In short, they were a people of mission who saw the great commission not as a job or as an assignment, but rather as a way of life. In Acts 2:42-47; we see the community found among Christ's first followers, sharing meals, meeting from house to house, and devoting themselves to the Apostle’s teaching.

These first followers thrived and excelled in the community of "common mission". I don't believe this means that they sat around eating potluck and simply listening to podcasts, but rather they "gave themselves" to the doctrine; they embraced and applied the way of life and the principles taught by the Lord's disciples, and the results were the very thing that everyone these days seems to be raising the rally cry for, community.

The end result was their community grew and it changed the face of the known world in their day because of the authenticity of their common union in the mission Jesus had given to them. Some scholars estimate that the church at Ephesus was nearly 65,000 believers. Mega churches aren’t a modern phenomenon when you look into the fruit produced by the gospel over the years. The first mega churches were a result of the early church truly living out community on a common mission.

I think it's high time that the church gets back to being the church that changed the world as opposed to the church that gathers on Sunday. We just need to find a group of people who are on that same mission as we are, and begin to assemble ourselves together with a oneness of purpose and see what happens as we truly engage community.

for more