Finding Authentic Community at Mars Hill
Have you ever walked out of a Sunday gathering longing for something more? What you are longing for though is difficult to explain.
Maybe you, like many others I have talked to, have devoured the biblical teaching at Mars Hill for a while, but still don't feel connected. Maybe you long to meet new people and get involved with the ministries of the church. Perhaps you don't know where to start.
At Mars Hill, the best way to find authentic community with other believers is to join a “community group.” These groups are small, typically 10-20 people who are seeking to honestly and biblically live life together for the glory of Jesus Christ. They meet all throughout the week, some in homes and some at the church. The purpose of these groups is not simply to provide more teaching like Sunday morning. Instead, they serve a different role. The bible is still the focus, but community groups offer a place to foster meaningful relationships, serve one another, and put God’s word into practice as we make disciples of Jesus.
Meaningful Relationships Change Everything
Our friends Michael and Allie moved to Mobile from a few states away with no real relationships in this area. During their first year or so here, the stresses of life compounded to the point that they began to dislike and even hate Mobile. They counted down the days until they could leave. They visited several churches and eventually began attending Mars Hill. They loved the Sunday services but still longed to be connected. So, they visited a community group. Their world has been turned upside down ever since. Not only did they find the friendship and biblical accountability they were longing for, but they also had triplets!
Everyone Wins When We Serve One Another
Hebrews 10:24-25 commands us, as Christians, to "consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Why would this biblical writer command us to fellowship together? Because we are made for community!
Nothing about Allie and Michael’s community group is magical. But for them, it was an answer to prayer. They were able to be honest about their needs and struggles, and their community group has walked with them through this crazy season of life. Their family and friends have sacrificed time, resources, and lots of diapers to help them transition from a family of 2 to a family of 5. They are, imperfectly, of course, living out what Jesus modeled when he willingly sacrificed his life on the cross for his children. Different seasons of life can put you on the side of serving or as the one being served. Both are a part of God’s perfect plan to show his glory through the church.
The Simple Way To Make Disciples
Paul was a teacher of God’s word, but he also used his life as an example to make disciples. In 1st Corinthians 11:1 he told fellow believers "be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." His discipleship "program" was simple, he lived a life devoted to following Jesus and invited others to follow his lead. First and foremost, we must know God’s word. Then, we apply it practically to love and serve one another.
So, what does that mean for us? It implies that authentic community is crucial because it is where we learn what it looks like to live out the truth of the Bible in our daily lives. How do we learn to pray? Study the bible? Spend money wisely? Deal with marital struggles? Handle disobedient children? God gives us others in the church to practically illustrate how to live for his glory. But, we can only truly see lives transformed if we are willing to invite people into our messy lives.
Have You Found Your Place In Community?
We each have a role to play in bringing God’s kingdom to our neighborhood, city, and world. One of the most effective ways that Mars Hill builds authentic Christian relationships is through community groups. It should be easy for every church member to find meaningful community with other believers. Please join me in seeking how we can better serve our church family. Maybe you need to find a community group where you can put your gifts to use. Maybe God is calling you to be a part of launching a new group. Perhaps you need to invest in the people around you now. I pray that each of us will seek God’s perfect will and be willing to follow wherever he leads us.