If I have learned anything about Christians after thirty years of ministry, it is this- Christians love being in community! Obviously there are exceptions, but trust me when I say that just about every Christian I know has some small group experience of which they’ve loved being a part. If you don’t believe me, just try and get that small group or class to split up in order to reach more people, and you will have War World III on your hands.
Now, you might be thinking, isn’t community supposed to be a good thing? The answer is a resounding “yes,” as long as community is a part of the mission, and not the mission. You see, Jesus never defined His mission as being deep, rich, life long community. Jesus defined the mission as “making disciples of all nations.”
If we are not careful, “community” can actually become an obstacle to the mission of making disciples. Now, before you attack me with both guns blazing, consider Jesus and His original disciples. Jesus took His twelve into a very deep level of community, but not at the cost of the mission.
In Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus shows His commitment to deep fellowship and community by how He prays for His disciples. In verse 11, Jesus prays, “…Holy Father, keep them in Your Name, which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one”. Jesus is clearly committed to a very deep level of community and unity with His disciples. In verse 20, Jesus prays these words, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.” Jesus is clearly praying for the success of His mission as His disciples make more disciples.
Imagine for a minute that you were on the mountain with the disciples when Jesus commissioned them to make disciples of all nations. What if the disciples had responded to Christ’s words with responses like this: “But Jesus, we really like our small group, don’t make us split up.” “Lord, let’s just stay together a little longer, we have such a good connection.” “Jesus, other people will mess up our tight-knit group.”
Never compromise the mission. Never allow community to become more important than making more disciples. Always remember, community and fellowship are a part of fulfilling the mission, they are not the mission!
If you want to learn more about making disciples then check out impactdisciples.com and see how God can use you to start a movement of multiplying disciples.