Over the years I have had the privilege of leading conferences and teaching as an adjunct Seminary Professor. One of the standard things I have tried to convey when it comes to ministry is “ if is convenient, it is probably not ministry”. My point here is that real ministry always demands a sacrifice. The sacrifice can be small or large, but make no mistake it will be there. People need ministry at the most inconvenient times it seems.
In some ways building community with a group of believers is the same. Community begins to take place when real life happens. My wife and I started teaching a Young Married couple’s class this past May. I began by teaching lessons designed to foster discussion on what Biblical Community was and how to go about building it. Six weeks into the class we had a week where one family celebrated the birth of a new baby and another family grieved the loss of a child during a pregnancy. During this time we also have said goodbye to friends who were moving and enjoyed some social time together. It was one thing to teach about community on Sunday mornings, but it took on a different dynamic when it began to be lived out during the week. Ministering to each of these families took sacrifices from the members of the class. It was not always “convenient” to make a meal, visit the hospital, or even make the effort to be in church on some Sundays.
I would have never chosen some of the things our class has gone through in order to bring us closer. God, however has used the circumstances in our lives for us to begin to understand what community is all about. These events have drawn our class closer together. Couples who were on the fringe of being involved in church have become committed to ministering to others in the class and to attending services at the church. The beginnings of true trust and agape love are starting to blossom. We are becoming a true family like God intended for us to be. People are craving a place where they can build real relationships, feel unconditionally accepted, and learn about God in an environment where it is safe to question and share. Yes, Bible Study is at one hour during the week, but community happens the rest of the time.