There are literally dozens of passages in the New Testament in which the followers of Jesus are instructed to care for each other, to look out for one another, to bear one another’s burdens, in short, to love one another. Jesus said that the second great command, behind loving God, was that God’s image bearers love their neighbors. He also said that the world would judge the legitimacy of his coming by the love that his followers bore for each other. It is impossible, reading the New Testament, to imagine the church functioning without substantial relationships among its members.
In light of all this we are committed to being in relationship with one another, giving and receiving familial affection in the church. We are quite committed to supporting various means by which we can be with each other. The most prominent of these is our community group structure. We form and support groups that meet together weekly for fellowship - a deliberate and sanctified community. The groups will often eat together, discuss the Bible, pray for each other, meet physical needs if necessary and consider how they might serve their surrounding communities. They also have a lot of fun. The groups are often geographically centered and are led and overseen by the leaders of the church.
The groups are explicitly open to any who would want to attend. The groups are encouraged to look outside themselves to care for those in need and to grace the city with their efforts. Participants in the community groups often have no connection to the church and many who do attend the church’s worship started by attending a community group.
There are also other avenues for community: weekly women’s Bible studies in the morning and evening, a bimonthly men’s group on Saturday mornings, service in children’s ministry, music teams and other ad hoc volunteer groups. Everywhere that the church meets from a large group to two or three, the aim is that we love each other deeply from the heart.
It is not easy being in community. It’s not easy to be honest and open, to share successes and failures, to rejoice and grieve collectively. It is often the case in a city like ours that individuals prefer to live alone and protected. The beauty of the gospel is that we are not only reconciled to God but also to one another. This we celebrate in our friendships in the church.