By Grant Crawford
The early church devoted themselves to “fellowship” (Acts 2:42)
So we know community is important, but how is it outworked?
- Expression in small groups?
- Expression in coffee lounges on sunday?
- Expression in dinner tables during the week
- Sharing and counselling?
Our theology needs to inform our practice.
The theology underpinning community is traced back to trinitarian community. The Trinity is a great mystery, it refers to the mutual indwelling/intersecting of the Godhead. The word Trinity comes from two Greek words “peri choresis”. “Peri” means around and “chorea” means dance. We might think of the trinity as a divine dance. It describes the love, harmony, intersecting and procession of the Godhead. At creation man was included in the dance, at the fall we excluded ourselves, opting to dance alone.
The work of Jesus brings us back into the dance. Ephesians 5 explains the union. The nature of the trinity when considered in John 15-17 has an “abiding” and a “proceeding” (sending) . The son was sent, the Spirit was sent. We need to take our cue from the trinity in reflecting both the abiding and the proceeding of the trinity. We naturally “abide ” around coffee tables and counselling sessions. But Trinitarian community is richer than a “charismatic cuddle”.
The Latin word “communitas” describes the nature of community the other side of trauma. For example, the sense of community one feels after experiencing a life-threatening encounter together. The term “comrades in arms” reflects the depth of community the other side of battle. For the church to experience the depth of community that God had in mind there needs to be both abiding and proceeding, community and communitas. The communitas is achieved when we enlist the church in the “mission of Jesus”.
We hope that this resource blesses you and the way you deal with community in your church. Feel free to print, edit and distribute this document.