Recap of Last Week: We are made in the image of the communal God, but our culture is radically individualistic. This shift stems from spiritual and systemic causes, particularly the ability to live independently from one another. Technology is not a cause but an accelerant. Depression emerged as an epidemic in our culture but not elsewhere because of this isolation. We need a Sandlot community!
Key concepts this week:
- The church is critical in the development of spiritual community.
- Spiritual community, essential to our well-being, must be intentionally developed.
Thomas Paine, in The American Crisis, said, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.” There is a high price to be paid for community today, but that dearness gives it its value.
What is spiritual community? 4 ideas.
1. Spiritual Intimacy
Christ + Context + Communication = Spiritual Intimacy
Jesus and the 5,000, 70, 12, 3 and 1 (note the significance of all his intimate friends sharing his faith). These can be divided into the following contexts:
Public – 100+ people at a shared event/experience. Jesus & the crowds. In church, worship.
Social – 20-70 people with a strong affinity. Jesus w/ the 70. In church, retreats, mission trips, youth groups, etc
Personal – 4-12 people revealing private info. Jesus w/ the 12. In church, small group.
Transparent – 2-4 people with vulnerability/openness. Jesus w/ the 3. In church, marriage, deep friendships, accountability or prayer partner.
Divine – Alone with God. Jesus and the Father. In church, prayer life.
Lack of focus on social and personal!
Matthew Kelly and the Seven Levels of Intimacy. These are really the levels of communication:
1. Cliché’s. 2. Facts. 3. Opinions. 4. Hopes and Dreams. 5. Feelings. 6. Fears and Failures. 7. Needs.
Connect the Context and the Communication to develop intimacy.
2. Spiritual Togetherness
What did Jesus’ community look like? Common purse (John 12:6), shared faith (John 6:68-9), shared purpose/mission (Luke 9 and 10), massive time investment.
Oikos (Greek for household) as a central community. Who is your oikos, and who would it be most fun to do church with?
3. Redeemable Community
What happens when the church lets you down?
This is inevitable. What we do when it happens matters a great deal. Matthew 18, John 21.
Keep working on your oikos – Jesus and his family.
Conversation: Discussion Questions
1. In the New Testament, identity as God’s family was experienced in small house churches. In our larger churches today, where do we experience “strong-group” identity?
2. What demands on your time and your life make experiencing tribe most difficult? How can you make space for kingdom-community? Hint: you will probably have to give up something that matters to you, and likely something “good.”
3. Have you been part of a church community where you expected/wanted your group to weigh in on your major life decisions? Describe or speculate on what blessings and challenges would be involved.