Why Community Groups? [Part Two]

The gospel is spread through people. That’s the way God designed this thing. People believe the gospel by other people telling them the gospel. And then those people tell more people, and then the world is changed. That is why we’re here, at one very important and real level.

In the last article on Community Groups, I said our mission to make disciples is inescapably relational.

People like you and me, just regular folks indwelled by the Holy Spirit, go about our days speaking the hope of Jesus to the lost and living under his lordship with the redeemed. And when we do that together, the whole thing — the church and its parts — “builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16). 

In summary, we call this “the Bible in relationship.” That’s the main thing, the Level One, of what our Community Groups are trying to do. But then there’s more. 

The Turn Inward

Every local church is confronted with an increasing pressure to turn inward. The pioneer of Reformed church planting in America, Jack Miller, wrote Outgrowing the Ingrown Church in 1986. The title speaks for itself — and it was over 30 years ago. So the problem isn’t new.

And in large part it’s understandable. As local churches grow, their needs grow too — and who can fault a church for rallying around its very felt needs?

In fact, few folks would complain about initiatives that make things “run” smoother. Challenges are real, and solutions, well, they solve them. So we like them. Pastors like them. But then, before long, our troubleshooting can short-circuit and we end up living to maintain. Maintenance becomes a value in itself. This is where the metric for success becomes our comfort — where “church” becomes a tack-on that we don’t want to get in the way of our other things (also called “busyness”). And by the time we’re there, the gospel is basically just feel-good box-checking. We certainly appreciate it, but we don’t have time for its transformative power.

This is why we must continually press beyond our maintaining and troubleshooting to understand their goal. The goal is mission. The goal is to make disciples in distance and depth (Matthew 28:18–20) — “so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).

Mission on the Front-Burner

And Community Groups are the central place at Cities Church that keep mission on the front-burner. It is the organizing structure of our church that includes every covenant member, and its purpose is mission. We meet together regularly to be equipped as disciples and mobilized as disciple-makers. We are actively present as witnesses to Jesus in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and networks. We do things in Jesus’s name to intentionally bless others, including simple smiles and waves in wintertime. Community Groups help us look outside ourselves, to think beyond the bubble, to outgrow the ingrown tug. It is not easier than maintaining, but it’s our calling.

“Go,” Jesus says, “and make disciples.” 

And “four years in” we’re praying and striving for more. Stay tuned.