"With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that this child, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”
Often, we think of the church a group of individual Christians. As a church staff, we often talk about the ways we can encourage, disciple, teach, and equip the individuals in our church. Our hope is that each person in our church becomes a fully-devoted follower of Christ who will love God, love others and serve the world. It is a great goal!
But, if we are not careful in this goal we can lose sight of the communal element needed for the church to be the church. We worship a communal God, after all, a trinitarian Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are inherently relational and communal in nature. As followers of Jesus, we exist to be the church together, to love God together, love others together, serve the world together. Just as Jesus does not find his meaning and place outside of the relational communion with God and the Holy Spirit, we cannot fully find our place and meaning outside of the church, the people of God. Formation into a disciple, a fully-devoted follower of Christ, is interdependent, relational and communal.
In the sacrament of baptism, we are initiated into this community, and we commit to be the community for others. This means we are obligated to each other, committed to the flourishing of those around us, and to the success of the church collectively. In sharp contrast to the “me-first” consumer culture that sees community and the church as there to meet my needs, a communal approach says we come to church for other people! We may not know what our role is in this communal process, but we become part of the church anyway. We anticipate being in worship to encourage someone else, regardless of if we are “spiritually fed.” We show up to Bible study in our groups, perhaps to share insight helpful to another group member. We serve others, not because we want to, but because others need our help. We come to church even when we don’t feel like it, because we know we are needed and part of something bigger than ourselves.
And over time, something wonderful happens, our participation in church community refreshes and renews us. We find joy and are drawn back to the source and purpose of our lives - communing with God as we simultaneously commune with God’s people. In this relational process, we fall deeper in love with God and others. And hence, we become the disciples God calls us to be.
How can you approach church in this communal, interdependent way?
Holy One, you have created me for community, for relationships and communion with my fellow believers. Help me learn to live in a communal manner, interdependent with those also seeking to follow you. Show me what it means to live in Koinonia. Thank you for the church and a place to worship, grow, give, and pray. I am yours, Lord. Lead me to be an instrument of your grace, peace and light in the world. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.