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Topics: Fatherhood, Leadership, Manhood, Marriage, Men

Embracing Community in Your Second Shift

July 14, 2014



By Whitney Clayton


The word community serves as an excellent example of confusion from overuse. It has become one of those Christian catch all words that you hear a lot and understand very little. Some churches call their regular attenders a community of believers. Some churches use the word community as a label for their small groups. In a lot of churches the community is where outreach and evangelism take place. None of those examples are incorrect uses of the term, but the variety of uses call for a definition of the term in the context of this post.

The call to embrace community in your second shift is the call to embrace what Missional Community proponent Mike Breen describes as an extended family. Now, in our culture, extended family is usually thought of as a nuisance, a source of holiday drama, and a group of strange people with whom we must associate in spite of being strangers. While that vision of the extended family fills holiday movies each year, the Bible paints a very different picture of what an extended family looks like. A friend in my community describes extended family through a story about Abram in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis,

10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way. . . 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. . .16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

This exemplifies the type of extended family I want to have in my life. I want brothers and sisters who fight for one another in times of need. I want a community that hears of my need and responds in force. I need other believers who see the sins of my heart I am prone to ignore. I hope to have the support of people who truly care. I summarize the answer to those needs with the word community.

Therefore, when you hear the call to embrace community, do not wave off the call as if it details something irrelevant or unnecessary or a waste of time. True community is none of those things. True community is a group of Christians rallied around the person of Christ, loving one another through service, encouragement, and exhortation.

Working out that last definition, we see that Christ is the cornerstone. He is the foundation of all community, because he alone saves us from the primary threat to all community – sin-besotted self-allegiance. If the chains of sin have been broken from your soul, the Bible makes clear that love is the new bond marks your life. Jesus told us we would be known by our love for one another, and that love should lead to the biblically mandated actions of serving one another (1Peter 4:10, Galatians 5:13-14, John 13:12-13), encouraging one another (1Thessaloninas 5:11, Hebrews 10:24-25), and exhorting one another on to righteousness (Hebrews 3:12-15). Apart from Christ, there is no binding love that spills over to loving action.

There has been much time spent here on the nature of community, but, as a means of closing, let me give you four ways to help you embrace true community in whatever context you live.

  1. Say no to good things to make room for better things. Sports are good. Children watching their parents model true community, and growing up in that community is better. Rest is good. A balanced pursuit of spiritual perseverance through true community is better. Family time is good. Family time mixed with family service in the context of community is better. Eliminate some of the good things in your life to make room for the better things.
  2. Stop believing you are okay as you are. In my experience, belief in our own well-being is the biggest hurdle to help someone cross when explaining gospel. Similarly, belief in our own well-being is the biggest hurdle believers must cross when considering community. I have repeatedly seen the heart which does not need others eventually devolve into the heart that does not need God. You need other people to help you persevere in the faith.
  3. Connect to community through your church. I know so many young people who, with great intention, try to create community with nonbelievers for the purpose of evangelism. While community should involve evangelism, true community cannot exist where Christ’s love does not. Therefore, work through your church to find the community you so desperately need.
  4. Lead your family in attitude and involvement. Men, lead your family. This is God’s desire for you, and it extends to the way you embrace community. If you treat community as an added obligation, your family will struggle to stay emotionally connected. If you are involved as little as is possible, your family will reap less than should be expected from loving relationships. You set the tone for your family, so lead well.

Men, embrace a life of true community, loving and serving as Abram’s extended family did, and submit your second shift to as an offering to God.


BIO:  Whitney is the executive pastor at The Bridge Community Church in Wilder, KY.

TWITTER:  @whitney_clayton



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