Why Gospel Communities? Part II

by Will Flathers

In Part I we talked about What Gospel Communities Are, today we'll look at why Element takes this approach to community...

Why Does Element Take This Approach to Community?

1) Because community is important, and we want to put it into practice! Have you ever noticed how many times commands in The New Testament include the phrase “one another”? We are commanded to love one another, serve one another, be devoted to one another, accept one another, instruct one another, encourage one another, build each other up… and the list goes on and on. I counted 44 occurrences. Those commands are not optional extras – rather, they are fundamental to what looks like to live as God’s family – to bear the family resemblance of Jesus! They are the fruit of the Gospel at work in our lives. GC’s are an excellent context for us to put those commands into practice. Because all too often in larger groups and larger settings, “fellowship” gets downgraded to a shallow chat over coffee; “family” gets downgraded to a theoretical relationship we have with 200 other people we barely know; and the “one anothers” get applied to people we like, but tend to conveniently exclude people we don’t like or people who are not like us.

2) We want to give everyone the opportunity to use their God-given gifts for the good of the church and the good of the city. GC’s are small enough that everyone is a critical member. Your contributions to your GC are critical! Your input and involvement is vital for the health of the GC! Christian ministry is not just for professionals, or paid staff, or super-Christians; we may not all be gifted speakers or skilled theologians, but the Bible is clear that all believers have a role to play (Ephesians 4:1-16, 1 Peter 4).

3) We want to reach more people. With multiple GC’s, each with their own unique group dynamic and situation, we will be able to reach more diverse sets of people. When John glimpses the throne room of the Lamb, it is filled with people from every nation, tribe and language – a diverse crowd united around Jesus. Imagine if we had GC’s reaching young and old, rich and poor, influential and marginalized in Santa Maria. GC’s are a great way for people to see the body of Christ in action – people who may otherwise never walk into a church building. GC’s are a great way to for us to connect with folks who are new to Element.

4) Conviction. We believe this is how we are called to live as God’s people. This approach is not meant to be a condemnation of other ways of doing church. We are not saying this is the only way! Rather, we are trying to take the principles we see in the Bible and best apply them in our unique situation: Central Coast, California, 2011. We believe that the bar can and should be so raised. Challenging? Certainly. Impossible? Yes – except that we have a God who is gracious, patient, loving, forgiving, and in control, a God who is growing His church and building His kingdom, a God who calls us and equips us. And because of that, we can confidently follow wherever He leads.

In future posts we’ll dig a little deeper and give some ideas of what GC life might look like in practice. But I’ll close with this encouragement:

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:8-11