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The Discipline Of Community

Have you ever considered fellowship with others a spiritual discipline? It seems that more and more we have internalized the belief of self-sufficiency, that we can experience life alone, raise children alone, go through struggles alone, experience joy alone, and follow Jesus alone.  Social media, online church, and distractions put a bandaid on the void, but at the end of the day so many of us are isolated.

Henri Nouwen once said in an interview with Ligurian Magazine, “Jesus didn’t live alone.  He had Peter, John, and James around him.  There were the Twelve and the other disciples.  They formed circles of intimacy around Jesus.  We too need these circles of intimacy, but it’s a discipline…I need people to love me and care for me.  Where are you getting your affection? Who’s holding you?  Who says, ‘You are a beautiful person, you are the beloved of God, don’t forget it?'”. 

We had a newer member of our missional community show up late to dinner a few weeks ago.  She later confessed to us that she had had a terrible day at work and was feeling incredibly anxious.  She drove to our group, but sat in the car outside the house for a long time, wanting to text us an excuse and just drive home.  She said she finally forced herself to come inside, because “I knew I needed to be there, and that I would feel better after I did”.  

This is the discipline of community that Jesus invites us into as followers of Christ.  It is a family of people who are there for you, intercede for you, and remind you that you are “a beloved of God”.  But also, WE are called to that discipline to be family to others.  To show up when it is an inconvenience for us, to be consistent, and to be that person that is pouring into the “beloveds” of God.

This is the vision of community that is the heartbeat of our church plant, and the narrative that we have been trying to live into this year in our Missional Community in St. Louis.  It is not perfect, but we have seen dramatic and beautiful life change in the people we have in our community.  Our prayer is that this will grow even more in 2023, and that the people of St. Louis will look at that way we love each other and be drawn into the love of the Father.

Anthony and Kylie are church planting with the Inspire ecology in St Louis, Missouri, USA.

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