Paul gives a
description of how those who are a part of a church are to behave when
they come together.
(NLT): Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must
clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility,
gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each others faults, and
forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you
must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which
binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that
comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you
are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message
about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel
each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or
say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through
him to God the Father.
kind of behavior happens in the church when we are connected through
community. The mission God has for us never happens if you and I are not
connected to a community of believers who are committed to
accomplishing the mission of loving God, loving others and changing the
world. When everyone who is a part of the body of Christ is connected
through community, then NOBODY STANDS ALONE.
How does a person get connected through Community?
I. Connecting through community by weekly committing to be a part of a Large Group.
At FBC, we encourage you to get up on Sunday Morning and be a part of a large group known as the FBC Worship Service.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT): Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
We come together as a large group so we can do two things:
- Motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
- Encourage one another.
II. Connecting through Community by weekly gathering with a small group.
Jesus was actually a part of a small group. He had his own small group of disciples that he met with for approximately three years. The N.T. has a number of passages that speak of disciples gathering in small groups. In these groups they prayed for one another, encouraged one another, rebuked one another, served one another, helped one another and taught one another. In these groups they celebrated together, they shared meals together, they grew to love each other deeply. We see the genesis of small groups in the early Christian church in Acts 2:42-47.
III. Connecting through community by serving with others in the community of faith.
Paul writes in Galatians 5:1 that it was for freedom that Christ has set us free.
What does a follower of Christ do with this freedom Christ has given them?
Galatians 5:13 (NLT): For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
Jesus set us free to live for Him, and has given us this great privilege of serving him by serving one another. There are lots of different ways to serve Christ, however, you will be most effective in your service when you are using your spiritual gifts. Peter teaches us that:
1 Peter 4:10 (NLT): God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
If you are a born-again follower of Christ, you have a least one spiritual gift, given to you by God, to serve the body of Christ. If you are not using your gift(s) that God has given to you, you are wasting a gift from God. Use your gift in the church to serve God and others and bring glory to God. When every believer, in the church is serving the body of Christ by using their gift(s) then we (the Church) will be able to accomplish the mission God has for us. The gift(s) you have been given should be used in the body of Christ until your dying breath.
John 17:14-19 (NLT): I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
Jesus makes it clear that his disciples, as well as himself, no longer belong to the world. He also is not asking the Father to take them out of the world. He simply asks the Father to: Keep His disciples safe from the evil one To make his disciples holy by teaching them the truth for the Word Then He prays that just as He was sent by the father, he is now sending out His disciples into the world. Jesus keeps us in the world because his plan 2000 years ago is the same today. That plan is to send out his disciples into the world with a task to connect to the community.
What is the task we are to accomplish through connecting to the community?
The task according to 2 Corinthians 5:17-21:
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NLT): This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 18And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
God, as a result of Jesus death on the cross for our sins, and His victory over death and the grave, has commissioned us and sent us out to given us this task of reconciling people back to Him. We are called his ambassadors and He has chosen to make His Gospel appeal through us. We have the wonderful ministry of reconciliation for people who are lost and eternally damned to Hell without Jesus Christ in their lives. God has called the Church to accomplish the task of reconciling sinners to Christ.
How does the church accomplish this task?
According to Dr. Jeff Iorg, President of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, "We must deploy believers through a strategy known as infiltration.”
According to Dr. Iorg: North American churches today largely focus on attraction and engagement strategies to communicate the gospel.
- An attraction strategy is a Christian event or program designed to accommodate unbelievers and introduce them to Jesus Christ.
- An engagement strategy is an event or program designed to involve unbelievers and introduce them to Jesus Christ.
Both of these types of strategies have their place and should not be abandoned. But they are inadequate for gospel-penetration of a post-Christian or never-Christian culture across North America.
- An infiltration strategy must be developed through and celebrated by local churches.
An INFILTRATION STRATEGY is the deployment of believers throughout the culture to introduce unbelievers to Jesus Christ in their context. Our main strategy at First Baptist Church is one of INFILTRATION. The only way we will ever connect to the community is to get out there and infiltrate the community and do what Jesus said in Matthew 5:15: “Don’t hide your light, let it shine for all…”