We have Gospel Communities that meet throughout the week to accommodate all kinds of schedules. Feel free to email any of our leaders for more information on where they meet!
WHAT TO EXPECT
In Christian tradition, there is a concept called “habitus”. Habitus refers to rhythms of life that are informed by our worldview, culture, societal standing, familial values, etc. This includes our daily routines but goes deeper than merely routines. A better phrase may be “way of life”.
The Christians in the early church viewed sanctification as a process by which followers of Jesus gradually leave behind the habitus of the “old self” as Paul refers to in Colossians 3:9 and are conformed to the image of Christ in the regenerate habitus of the “new self” in Colossians 3:10.
This is a process which requires patient endurance, but it is also something that requires Christian community. And one of the ways that Christian community was lived out in the early church was in agape (or love) feasts. The Christian love feasts were contextually similar to feast that would occur at meetings of Roman trade guilds or associations, but they differed in that they charged no fees, but instead took care of the poor among them without prejudice. We see an instance of the prejudice against the poor in 1 Corinthians 11, when Paul rebukes the church for their abuse of the Lord’s Supper because their gatherings looked no different than the gatherings of the society around them. The outpouring of love for the poor that was most common in these gatherings even caught the attention of pagan Roman rulers.
“The Roman Emperor Julian, writing in the fourth century, regretted the progress of Christianity because it pulled people away from the Roman gods. He said, 'Atheism [I.e. the Christian faith!] has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.” (John Piper, A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life)
It is in these gatherings that no one was lacking. It is also in these gatherings that many of the “one anothers” in Scripture are lived out. In these gatherings, we each bring a “psalm, hymn or spiritual song” (Ephesians 5:19) to share with the group. We talk about what God is doing in our lives. We give testimony to how God is changing us. We challenge each other and encourage each other and spur one another along towards holiness. When non-believers are welcomed among us, those gifted in evangelism can use their gift to share with the non-believer, but also to display to the others in the group what evangelism looks like so that all may be built up to do the work of an evangelist. Those gifted in hospitality are extremely valuable to the body in these gatherings as they use that gift to create a warm and welcoming environment for all to gather and that will be welcoming to those outside the group as well. Those gifted in encouragement can speak into the lives of those who are hurting. Those gifted in discernment can sense discouragement or unbelief and speak into that with the truth of the gospel.
Our Gospel Communities are not 100% equivalent to the agape feasts of the New Testament church just as our cultural context is not the same as the church of that time. However, our Gospel Communities are moving toward the concepts that were pursued in these feasts while adapting them to our cultural context. And we are encouraging Gospel Communities to enjoy a meal together in their gatherings. These are the gatherings where our relationships with one another begin to go deep. This is where we live in such a way so as to show the world that we are disciples of Jesus by our love for one another. These are the gatherings where we can invite the poor, lonely and hurting in our community in and make them feel loved and accepted. These are the gatherings in which we can encourage diversity of culture, thought, background, and social status and live out what it looks like to be unified as the body of Christ. If we are not in Christian community, we will inevitably be pulled toward the way of the world. Only in Christian community can we hear, comprehend and live the gospel that the Christian community is seeking to embody as well as teach.
Our Gospel Communities are essential to the life of our church. Sunday morning gatherings are good and necessary. DNA groups are good and necessary. And Gospel Communities are good and necessary. We encourage you to engage deeply in these communities so that you may begin to see your “habitus” transformed from the old way of life to the new as you begin to work for your brothers and sisters to see their habitus transformed as well!