For believers in the early church, living as individual, isolated Christians was never an option. As a community, Christians faced opposition and persecution for their commitment to Christ. The church’s influence and momentum grew supernaturally as Christ’s message of hope spread and continued to transform the world, one person at a time. By God’s grace we desire for this to continue through our community today.
Read Romans 12:4-8. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?
1. What does it mean to belong to a family, footy club or walking club? What’s the difference between belonging to these clubs and belonging to a Christian community?
2. How does being on the ‘sidelines’ make it harder to flourish?
3. Dr Kenneth Pelletier states that a sense of belonging is a basic human need – it actually has implications for our health. What does a sense of belonging look like in the church?
4. Ephesians 2:11-13 speaks about us not being foreigners and strangers but being a part of God’s household. Does this have implications in racial discrimination, with asylum seekers, and in engagement with the poor or disadvantaged?
5. The people that we allow to speak into our lives and influence us can be either negative or positive. (1 Corinthians 15:33; Philippians 4:8). How do we determine who speaks into our lives? Are we a positive or a negative influence on others’ lives?
Take a moment to assess your level of integration into community. Are you functioning as part of the ‘body’ of Christ? Are there people in your life who are challenging you to grow spiritually? Are you in relationship with people who are ‘checking out’ the gospel?
Being planted by God is about being placed where you are supposed to be. It causes you to make long term plans. It’s a place where you can flourish in life. When you are planted in a Christian community, you develop a deep and abiding sense of commitment to the mission and vision of your community. Your relationships are strong and you can see that you can make a meaningful contribution to the cause that you wholeheartedly support.
Read Psalm 92:12-15. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?
1. Compare the different attributes of a shepherd and a hired hand (John 10:11-13).
2. What does it mean to be planted in a Christian community and how is it different from being a “free agent” (Psalm 92:12-14)?
3. Being planted in a church, a relationship or a workplace has connotations of ownership and longevity – a preparedness to work through issues rather than run, criticise or harbour grudges. Do you agree with this? Which attitudes do you most often show in each of these places?
4. “Do not let your past experiences dictate your fruitfulness in the future.” How does this statement sit with you? Spend some moments with God, engage with Him on past failings and allow Him to give you His new narrative for you.
5. Read Jeremiah 17:7-8. When challenges come in our lives, for the person whose roots are deeply planted in God, the outcomes are different. Discuss.
6. How do we become planted in Christian community? How do we develop deep roots in the community and in God? Discuss.
What’s the most challenging area in your life just now? Is anyone walking through it with you? Be sure to let your friends know what’s going on. Make a call, send a text, write an email, or catch up. They may pray with you, encourage you, or simply be with you. Are any of your friends going through something significant at the moment? Take a moment to pray for them and then connect with them.
Part of what it means to be made in God’s image is that we all have a capacity and a need for connectedness. That’s why God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
Read Ephesians 2:19-22. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?
1. What was it about committing to the small community of Jesus’ first followers that enabled them to live a bigger life together than they could ever live alone? It transformed nearly all their lives. Why did Judas ultimately fail to live out this ‘bigger life’?
2. The Bible uses family language when referring to the body of Christ. How does this change the concept of a group of people meeting together as the church? (Ephesians 2:19-22)
3. God asks us to love one another as well as to love Him. We can have a strong commitment to Jesus but a weak commitment to each other. Do you agree with this statement? If this is true and God asks us to love one another, what is one step that you can take this week to change this? (John 13:34)
4. God gave us the legal right to become children and heirs of God and co-heirs with Jesus. Do you think of yourself as an heir of God and a co-heir with Jesus? Take some time to pause and think what this means to you and how it may change how you view yourself. (John 1:12)
5. We all choose whether we will step into service or community within our church or whether we will remain on the ‘travelator’ out the back door of church. Why do many people choose to do this? Has this been your experience?
6. Social media can encourage weak ties between people – email, facebook and texts instead of developing strong ties with friends. Is there a specific ‘weak link’ relationship that you could strengthen this week?
Learning, growth and change always happen through action. We grow as we step into relationship with people.
This week do three things that will lift someone else’s burden. Any act of service that lightens someone’s load will do. Keep your acts of service non-monetary. They should involve your time and energy. Experience the joy of putting the needs of others before your own. As far as you are able, try to be of service to others without them knowing. It may be impossible to hide—don’t lie if they ask you about it. Just try not to draw attention to what you have done.