Monday, September 5, 2011

Community - It's a Value

Recently my wife and I have been chatting about community. Specifically what it is we are wanting from the communities we participate in. This summer our church, Freedom Vineyard, decided not run any small groups - a tough decision but it has been really worthwhile having a break and a chance to reflect on the last ten years. During those years there are things we've done well and things we've not done well. Important stuff to reflect on, hard as it was to step back in order to do that. One of the ideas I keep coming back to is that of community. Community to me is a place where it is not just one or two people doing everything, but a group of people who together shape and enact what it means to them to be the Church. Sure I love the worship aspect, and even teaching on a regular basis - but without a strong community those things can too easily become a burden to the few. I'm convinced that running church like that is not sustainable in the long run, the burnout I was feeling at the start of the summer was testimony to this being true.

I'm about to invite folks to gather and pray about what God might want to do with Freedom Vineyard this fall. While I am confident that God has no end of great plans for each of us individually - I am open to the idea that this might not be enough to run another small group just yet. Actually in the past many of our groups literally formed themselves as people gained a vision for what God was inviting them into as a community. We've had some really amazing groups over the years and I am sure we will have more in the future. But most of all I want to participate in communities that are gathered around God's purposes, especially in participating in God's redemptive work of grace throughout the world. That's the stuff that gets me excited!

Part of what sparked the conversation was meeting up with a couple who had been part of one of our early Freedom Vineyard communities. A really great couple who had moved over from England after being part of the Vineyard there. This weekend I could sense in them the same longing for community that I saw in myself. It renews in me a sense of what is possible from the Church, that is fostering communities with Kingdom purpose. It also restores in me a determination to not settle for less than community that follows God's invitation to Kingdom works. When I call for our people to gather and pray I will ask them what is God calling them listening for the common threads that might knit together another community and small group.

My prayer at this time is for God, in God's time, to draw the right people together to create community in which me and my family can thrive. A community that will allow us to become all that God wants us to be. After all that is the mission that has been at the heart of Freedom Vineyard since the beginning - helping you become all you can be in Christ.

What kind of community are you longing for?

* The images are from Freedom Vineyard gatherings. The first is a conference we put on back in 2004. The second is from a wedding for a couple who have been long time members of Freedom. Many of the face have changed over the years, when I reflect back there are so many amazing people we've had the privilege of walking with. My hope is that there will continue to be many more.

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