What Are Community Groups?

So this week for the time of exhortation, we’re going to continue our series on the mission and vision of Cities Church. Last week we talked about what it means for us to seek the good of the Cities.

First, we really love the Cities.

Then next, we want the people of these Cities to be happy forever.

And therefore, we want to show and tell the people of these Cities the good news of Jesus.

This is essential to our church. It is an indispensable part of our mission to make disciples of Jesus. But there’s more.

Not only do we want to seek the good of the Cities and therefore show and tell the love of Jesus, but we believe that Jesus says of these Cities the same thing he told the apostle Paul about the city of Corinth.

In Acts 18:10, when Paul had taken the gospel into the city of Corinth, Jesus told him not to fear, but to keep speaking the gospel, because, Jesus said, “I have many in this city who are my people.” In other words, Jesus told Paul to keep sharing about his love because there were people in Corinth who were going to receive it. That was true of Corinth then, and of every city to which the gospel has advanced the last 1800 years. And it is true of Minneapolis and St. Paul today.

We are, with God’s help, going to seek the good of these Cities — we are going to show and tell the love of Jesus — and there will be some, we hope many of our neighbors and friends, who will embrace him. They will want him. Jesus already knows who you are. He’s already called dibs. You might be here today, or we might meet you later. But we believe, by God’s grace, that you are going to come to love Jesus, and he is going to change your life.

The question for us as a church is how we are going to connect these dots. What is our main strategy for seeking the good of the Cities? We call them Community Groups.

Defining Community Groups

Community Groups are a band of disciples who team up to show and tell the love of Jesus in our neighborhoods and relational networks. We have defined them as focused, shared ministry networks — because they are groups of Christians sharing ministry that is focused on a particular neighborhood and the relationships connected to it.

Community Groups are made up of around 10-20 people, and they include four parts:

  1. Everyday life
  2. Regular meetings
  3. Events and initiatives
  4. Service projects

For Everyday life, we mean that as who we are, in all the do, we want to do it in hopes of making Jesus known. So we have conversations, we have celebrations, we bless those around us, we share meals with others, and we rest and recreate like Jesus is real. Because he is.

We also meet on Wednesday nights for discipleship and prayer for our Cities. This is where we dream and strategize about how to serve our communities.

And then out of those meetings, we host events, we throw parties, we start stuff — all as a way love our neighbors and bring the joy of Jesus into our neighborhoods.

And then lastly, as we discover needs in our communities, we fill the gaps. We help the hurting. We do good. We bless people.

All because we seek the good of the Cities — because we want to show and tell the love of Jesus. This is a Community Group.

And this isn’t an extra-curricular activity of our church, but it’s really the center, organizing strategy for what we’re all about. This is how we aim to do what Jesus told us to do, which is to make disciples of all nations.

If you’ve been coming on Sunday morning, we’d love for you to get connected with one of these groups throughout the week. If you want to learn more info, connect with one of the pastors after the service, or email me. But we believe that the church is not something you go to, but it’s who we are in Christ every day of the week. And we’d love for you to be the church with us.

And now here is the word of caution, both for myself and for all of us as a church. Whatever it is we think about our mission or this strategy, one thing I can guarantee is that it will not be easy. This kind of relational investment — this kind of all-in Christianity — is not cozy. It was never meant to be. And our problem with that is that we tend to like cozy. Everything around us tells us to protect our comfort, to guard our ease.

And as we look out on our mission, what will keep us from moving forward won’t be because it’s not good, but because it’s too hard. It’s too intrusive; it disrupts our time, crowds our space, asks too much of our hearts. And the truth is, left to ourselves, we would rather coddle our comforts than have to live by that much faith.

And we just need to see this, say this, and then repent. So let me lead us in a prayer before silent confession.

Prayer of Confession

Father, forgive us, please, for how our hearts shrink back from the abundance of your grace. You are good, and you do good, and you delight in the cheerful giver. But we confess, that in ourselves, we are insecure and defensive. We are better at clutching the giving. We shut more doors than we open. We seal up our time instead of sowing it.

Father, we confess that we are no good apart from you. We need you. We need more of your grace. We need your mercy. We need the love of Jesus to overcome our souls. Please do that now as we enter into silent confession.

[silent confession]

Assurance of Pardon

Church, because Jesus Christ died in your place on the cross, taking the guilt of your sin and freeing you from the power of sin, and because he was raised victorious from the dead and now reigns, and you have been united to him by faith, you have now confessed your sins, and . . . by the authority of Jesus Christ, and as a minister of his gospel, I therefore declare to you his entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  

Jonathan Parnell