Day Nineteen - Cultivating Community
Having discussed the importance of a small group community, Warren now provides pointers on how to cultivate community.
- Cultivating community takes honesty. Sometimes it is necessary to speak the truth in love, even when the truth hurts. To have authentic community I will have to bring problems to the forefront and not let them fester in the background.
- Cultivating community takes humility. Pride builds walls between people and blocks God's race in my life. The key to humility is admitting my own weaknesses and being open to correction. That will give me the perspective on how to deal with other people's weaknesses.
- Cultivating community takes courtesy. Courtesy involves respecting differences between myself, being considerate with other people's feelings and being patient with people who irritate me. In every group there are some people that require extra effort to love. God puts these people in groups to test us and to help us grow. We are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ unconditionally just like within a real family. And who knows! I may be one of those people!
- Cultivating community takes confidentiality. Only when people feel they can open up without the fear of gossip later on can we have real community. We need to have a spirit of trust and openness.
- Cultivating community takes frequency. Regular, frequent contact is necessary to cultivate a true sense of community. In Acts we see that the first churches met every day! Every member of the group needs to commit to meeting with regularity and make meeting together a top priority.
Warren suggest making a group covenant that will have each member of the group commit to the characteristics of biblical fellowship.
Warren quotes the Bible twenty one times using seven translations and paraphrases. He generally sticks with the proper context of the passages, though as is usually the case he uses poor paraphrases a lot of the time. Ephesians 4:25, 1 Corinthians 5:3-12 and Proverbs 24:26 all jump out as examples of this. This continues to be an irritation to me since Warren has great things to say and he does not need to use these poor paraphrases to support his points.
Point to Ponder
Today's point to ponder is "community requires commitment." I have found that the best moments we have shared in our home church have been the ones where everyone is present. Not only that, but the moments have been built on periods of time where everyone has been committed to the group and has been attending regularly. Our communion together suffers when members come and go and when we can never be sure who will attend any given meeting. I have seen the importance of regular attendance, and have also seen the problems inherent in poor attendance. I have been pondering the idea of asking people to commit to regular attendance and perhaps even introducing a covenant we can all agree to that will help us all see attendance as a necessity.
Tomorrow's topic is Restoring Broken Fellowship