Our faith was never intended by God to be a solo affair. He intends for us to be deeply connected to him in an abiding relationship. In addition, part of encountering God in a deep relationship requires having deep, accountable, relationships with other Christians. This, in turn, requires us to be involved in a community of believers. Note, I said “community.” There is a significant difference between a community of believers and a group of Christians who merely get together regularly. For a little more on what that can look like read: Authority: How Jesus Leads a Church, (July 17, 2010).
In my post, Organic Discipleship #1: The Place of the Bible (Aug. 29, 2010) I clearly stated that the Bible is a vital part of organic discipleship. In fact, I suggested a skill I teach new Christians is to read the Bible as a personal conversation with Jesus, and obey what he says. What happens when we take that Bible focused obedience skill and combine it in community? Let me describe what that could be like.
Imagine with me for a moment a small organic church, maybe twelve people. Each has learned to read the Bible as a personal conversation with Jesus and obey. This group hangs out together as much as possible. They do ministry together. They eat together. They spend time in each other’s homes regularly. And, they intentionally meet on Tuesday nights. When Tuesday rolls around (or in fact any time they see each other) their souls are saturated with the Scriptures. This is because they each read the Bible as a personal conversation with Jesus and obey; as part of their love relationship with Jesus. Perhaps one person is reading in Hebrews, another in Mark, others are in a Life Transformation Group reading Genesis. It really doesn’t matter. When they get together, their souls are not only saturated with Scripture, their lives are saturated with obedience to Jesus, based on what they read. They are going to have lots to talk about when they gather.
On Tuesday, Brittney shares a story of how Jesus has been speaking to her in the book of Joshua and how she is putting into practice what she is learning. Jordan and Braden note that this is exactly what Jesus was speaking to their LTG about last week, even though they were in Genesis. As the conversation deepens, Matt and Tiffany point out the obvious; Jesus is not only talking to them as individuals, he is speaking to the church. Tiffany further suggests that they pray to Jesus, listing for his instruction, so they can obey him as a faithful, loving community. Through prayer they realize that Jesus is sending them on a communal ministry project. They prayerfully plan and put the plan into action.
Have you ever had a rich encounter with Jesus in community through the Scriptures? Those moments are worth their weight in gold. For most of us, they are also about as uncommon as a gold coin. But they don’t have to be. If the community learns together to read the Bible as a personal conversation with Jesus and obey; then we just have to gather and start telling stories. If we are open to Jesus leadership and we have learned not to allow any human to control the group. Jesus will use the Scriptures to speak deeply to the community. Then all we need to do is learn to obey. Since Jesus is initiating that action, expect to see fruit, more fruit and fruit that remains. Also expect to see your relationship with Jesus mature rapidly and become much for satisfying that it has ever been before.
For other posts on discipleship see: What Is Organic Discipleship?, Organic Discipleship #1: The Place of the Bible, Organic Discipleship #2: The Place of Prayer, Why Simple Churches Don’t Work, Reason #3, and The Spirit Leads to Truth.
- Do you believe that discipleship should always be tied to obedience? Why or why not?
- Would you find the scenario mentioned above satisfying, threatening or a little of both? Why?
- Have you ever been in a community that interacts about the Bible like this?
- Have you ever been in a Christian community that was this intent on obedience? Do you think churches like this are common? Why or why not?