A gospel community is essential to making mature disciples. A healthy gospel-shaped community should have some observable patterns.
When Jesus arrived in our world he got started on his disciple-making strategy by calling a carefully selected group of friends into his plan and sharing life together so closely that all mission, teaching and miracles happened in the context of this new family we can call a ‘gospel community’.
We want to help others understand this idea of how to make fully mature disciples of Jesus. And even more than that, we want to say that you cannot make fully mature disciples of Jesus without a healthy, gospel-centred church family.
This church family should be the place where you are hearing and experiencing a living relationship with God, through Jesus, and in the power of the Spirit, centred around the gospel, in a living community, and on mission.
Here are 3 things we do in our gospel community to follow the model that Jesus showed us. They are easily remembered with the following hook: “up, in & out’.
UP – We teach disciples to follow God.
In our community we are devoted to the Word of God and prayer (Acts2:42). While it is a good endeavour to teach people information about God, it is a more excellent exercise to teach people how to follow Him in a life-giving relationship.
We believe far more than ‘knowing about’ God it is important to ‘know’ God and hear His voice. In John chapter 10 Jesus said:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
– Jn. 10:27
IN – We teach disciples to be devoted to their community.
One of the marks of authentic gospel community is a people radically devoted to caring for one another and helping meet the needs of others. A modern view of generosity might say “If I have extra, I will give”. A gospel-centred view asserts “If my brother has need, we will be sure it is met”.
The early church heard the news of a Saviour so passionately devoted to them and their eternal wellbeing that they outworked that reality in their devotedness to one another. They also had a conviction that where God had placed them was to be their spiritual family where they would live and work and celebrate the goodness of God. This is radically different to the modern idea of ‘choosing’ a church based on personal preferences.
“They devoted themselves….to the fellowship”
– Acts 2:42
OUT – We teach disciples to be makers of disciple-making disciples.
1 Cor. 11:1 ‘Follow my example…’
Take your people “UP” to Jesus and they will learn to follow him in every area of life. Model how your community can be committed and devoted “IN” to each other. And finally bring your people in to your way of life in a way they will reproduce “OUT”. Then you will have a reproducing and multiplying gospel community on mission with Jesus.