Doubling Down on Christian Community

When life gets busy time spent in Christian community is often the first thing to go.  But it is in these times when we actually need fellowship more, not less.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Fall: When Busyness Comes Back
It’s back-to-school season, and whether you’re a student, or a teacher, or you’ve been working year-round, the summer lull has left and the fury of fall has arrived. Faced with competing priorities this is also the time of year when Christians make decisions about how much time they have for small groups and doing life together.

While it’s tempting to look at your schedule and say, “I’m too busy for Christian community,” the reality is you’re to busy not  to have community.

Self at the Center
The extent of our interaction in Christian community when we’re busiest indicates what we believe about the church and what role it plays in our lives.

This quote sums up the tension:

“The prevailing view of life today is that of an individual standing on his or her own, heroically juggling various responsibilities–family, friendships, career, leisure, chores, decisions, and money…From time to time the pressures overwhelm us, and we drop one or more of the balls.  All too often church becomes one of the balls.  We juggle our responsibilities for church (measured predominantly by attendance at meetings) just as we juggle our responsibilities for work or leisure.”

Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

Is the church, or living in covenant community, just another ball you juggle along with all the rest of your responsibilities?

Although we may say differently, our schedules often reveal that self is at the center.  We evaluate all of our activities in terms of a “cost-benefit” analysis about how they affect our personal time and priorities.  If church is just another duty and we measure our faithfulness by attendance at functions, then when other responsibilities start to mount up, fellowship time gets buried under the pile.

Community at the Center
But a more biblical view of how to be the church might be described like this…

“An alternative model is to view our various activities and responsibilities as spokes of a wheel.  A the center or hub of life is not me as an individual but us as members of the Christian community.  Church is not another ball for me to juggle but that which defines who I am and gives Christlike shape to my life.”

Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

Instead of putting ourselves as individuals at the center of life, we put community united by Christ at the center.  Rather than letting our involvement with Christian community drop, it is Christian community that allows us to keep the rest of our lives in motion.  Being the church isn’t just one of another responsibilities, being the church reorients your responsibilities around following Christ with other believers.

What Would a Family Do? 
Think of how a family acts.  As a husband and a father, when life gets busy I have to first consider how all my other activities will affect my family.  As a result I make choices about how I spend my time, sometimes difficult ones, so I have enough time with my family. Because family is closer to the center of my life, I make my other responsibilities fit around it, not the other way around.

When you become a Christian you become part of the household of God (Eph. 2:19). Now instead of your individual self in the middle, community with God and His people is at the center.  It is through community that we experience God’s blessings.  The joy of fellowship, the encouragement to holiness, the use of our spiritual gifts all happen within the context of community.

And when times get busiest that’s when we need Christian community the most. It is our brothers and sisters in Christ who will remind us when we’re stressing too much about work.  Who will help us with dinner and kids when we have an especially jam-packed week.  And they are the ones who preach the Gospel to us that says salvation is found in Jesus alone and not in all of our busyness.

As the pace of life picks up that’s when we need to double-down on Christian community, not back away.

As Hebrews says, “And let us 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” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Leave a Reply