reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Gospel and Community

posted by Little Mo | Permalink |
So, it's the thing today to emphasise the role of the community in reaching people with the Gospel. Hurrah for that emphasis; it is indeed the church that demonstrates God's wisdom, and it is also the love that we have for each other that makes people know we are Jesus' disciples. I agree with the Bible- big surprise.

However, I see people making a jump here that I'm not sure is in Scripture, and I think, actually, is making us all risk feeling like failures. Yes, it is our love, our community that backs up our witness. But is the unbeliever supposed to like our community (and want to join in?) I'm not sure I see that idea anywehere in the Bible. Should they even want to belong before they believe? Isn't the idea actually more that the unbeliever thinks our community is weird as it's made up of a random group of people who still love each other?

Discussing this with some friends the other night, I was sharing that, for example my housegroup, which is a lovely friendly group of people have been trying this for some time. Lots of emphasis on spending time together, bringing non-Christians along, sharing our lives. Now, not once has someone who isn't a Christian come along and joined our housegroup and thereby become a Christian. Are we doing it wrong? Should we be worried?

I don't think so. Many people have commented and chatted to their Christian friend about our group being friendly, but more than that, how they have found it weird that a group of Christians like us hang out together. To be honest, though, the 22 year old Chinese people who come along probably have no desire to come back and hang out with me, nearing middle aged guy. Why would they? But hopefully the group makes them also wonder why their Christian friend wants to.

The friends I was discussing with agreed that they would be far more likely to invite some non-Christian friends to their house for dinner with similar Christian friends than to their house group social where there would be such a huge range of people they aren't used to, that they would sit in a corner and the inviter would end up talking to them.

In short, are we putting pressure on ourselves by saying our love for each other makes non-Christians want to join our community? Is it, rather, that our love for each other, madly diverse and different as we are is really strange to non-Christians, and almost unattractive in its weirdness? And that is what makes them wonder about where this odd ball community comes from?

9 Comments:

Blogger Daniel said...

I think this is absolutely spot on. Good thinking, nearing middle aged guy.

11:14 AM  
Blogger étrangère said...

Nah, you're not nearing middle age!
But seriously, I think you're right - if a church (group / CU) makes sense to people without Jesus, if they think it's an attractive bunch to hang out with, then it's not sounding much like NT church. Church is surely the kind of thing that you look at and think, "WEIRD. I have no idea what brings those people together. It's not even church meetings - they actually seem to love each other. Bizarre. Must be a Jesus connection!" I love my church for this reason :) I'm not sure it'll be the best road in for introducing my other friends, as you say, but I think some of them already wonder slightly at me hanging out with an 83 year old, teenagers, middle aged parents and people of a random collection of nationalities. I'd be interested in more thoughts on this though from the perspective of inviting ppl into community / connecting ppl with church.

4:40 PM  
Blogger dave bish said...

Very insightful.

I'm all for bringing people into the community, and yet still have a natural inclination to network similar people when introducing Christians and non-Christians to one another..

12:47 AM  
Blogger peterdray said...

Very interesting. Yes, I think there's some truth in this.

However, whilst weirdness is inevitably the primary reaction to such a group, shouldn't we then expect further reaction beyond?

I know people that have joined CU small groups or churches on the count of the quality of their community; and whilst inevitably their first reaction has been weirdness, they also crave to be part of a group where they are accepted as they are. For others, I suspect, the 'weirdness' will actually repel them as they see the cost of dying to self and serving others in love.

2:13 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Too right, if the gospel is foolishness to the unbeliever then a gospel community should be pretty foolish to an unbeliever as well!

8:27 AM  
Blogger Olive Tree Guitar Ensemble said...

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7:45 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

Mo... What is going on my friend! I came across your blog again while prepping for a sermon. It was great to read and hear your voice in my head! So while this should be an email, I will write it hear for all to read!

We have so much to catch up on friend, I am pastoring a church plant in Columbus, OH called Veritas (www.veritascolumbus.com). I miss you dearly and would love to chat sometime soon.

-Brad

10:27 AM  
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7:01 AM  
Blogger Hannah said...

This is Hannah Bevills, Editor for Christian.com which is a social network made specifically for Christians, by Christians, to directly fulfill Christian's needs. We embarked on this endeavor to offer the ENTIRE christian community an outlet to join together as one (no matter denomination) and better spread the good word of Christianity. Christian.com has many great features aside from the obvious like christian TV, prayer request or even find a church/receive advice. We have emailed you because we have interest in collaborating with you and your blog to help us spread the good word. I look forward to an email regarding the matter, Thanks!

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7:08 AM  

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