Intentional Community

DSC_0028 I've been thinking a lot about community lately. I was super encouraged by Megan from Sorta Crunchy's call to 40 Days of Community (I came in a few days late but am starting to join in it now), and it came at the perfect time for me.

Our church is very community based. We have meals together twice a month, meet at the beach weekly in the summer and really emphasize our Community Groups as the most important way to get involved in the church, connected with other believers to do life together, and reach out to our communities.DSC_0056

Last week our church brought in a guest speaker, Steve Timmis, who shared on living in community. As he taught and shared about what life looks like for his church in Sheffield, England and their "gospel communities" (that's what they call their small groups), the biggest thing I took away from it explained why I feel like the reaching out part is the hardest for me.

It's because the relationships where we're trying to be a light for Jesus don't always happen naturally; nope, rather, it's all about intentionality.

Steve talked about his gospel community being simply ordinary people, living ordinary life, but with gospel intentionality.

And yet, outreach, and being intentional about it, was talked about not as a particular event, a program or anything like that, but rather just part of life.

Me living my life in a way that makes others curious.

Getting non-believers integrated into relationships within the community of believers, so they see us "gospeling" one another.

I like how he used the word gospel as a verb. Because it's not a one-time deal like I used to think. It goes beyond sharing the gospel with the four spiritual laws or merely even the Good News about what Jesus did for us way back when.

It's ongoing, this Gospel. It's a way of life, not just a message hope {it is a message of hope, of course, but so much more, too}.

So, how do we "gospel" one another within community? It's all about...

  • holding each other accountable
  • modeling this good life we have in the Lord
  • inviting others in
  • making adjustments to life {to accomodate community}
  • calling people away from careerism {love this}
  • and calling people away from the idolatry of the nuclear family {more on this later}

the crew

I feel like for our family, living with a sense of being in community with other believers isn't too hard, because we really love our church family. We still want to do more and go deeper with our small group, but it's the intentionality of the gospel that we need to seek more and more.

We want to be intentional about gospeling each other and reaching out to the community where the Lord has us. We love where we live, our neighborhood, and the friends we've made in our neighbors.

Now it's time to be mindful about living in community with them and inviting them more and more into our lives and into our community of believers.

We need to fight against the Christian bubble, and instead, through the Holy Spirit, be impacting the community for Christ.

I don't think it's a coincidence that I'm feeling all of this on my heart as we approach moving into our next home, a home which has the bigger living space we prayed for specifically with the purpose of entertaining/hosting more and offering the open and inviting feel that we mention in our family mission statement.

Many people are taking this season leading up to Easter to be intentional about something, whether it's through sacrificing something or another way. I feel like I've stumbled into this season with a vision of praying and preparing myself and my family for living a life with more gospel-intentionality.

I'm challenging myself to keep my eyes open for how I can go deeper and reach out more within my own various little communities, such as:

  • my neighborhood
  • my daughter's preschool
  • the women I hope to connect more with come summer through my Surf Mamas group
  • and the blogging community

I don't expect this way of life to be easy. Just today Sarah Markley wrote beautifully about how community can be hard for some of us. But if we want to live life fully, I'm sensing that this is the direction in which our family needs to head.

So what about you? Are you living with gospel-intentionality? I'd love to hear how that plays out in your life, or where you feel like you could be even more intentional.

*****

For reference, Steve Timmis is the author of Total Church and Gospel-Centered Life, two books our church has read together.

These random photos are meant to showcase a few ways I feel that community has played out in our lives. :)