Tuesday, November 1, 2011
In the early 90's while serving the Vidalia Church, I led my first Disciple group. With the exception of one or two years, I started a Disciple Bible Study group every September. Every time I finished one, it seemed like the best one. And when I did the last one at the Richmond Hill Church before retirement, I thought again, "This one is the very best one." In many ways, it really was an extraordinary experience with some disciples who God brought together for those nine months.
After that group was done, I wrote in the back of a devotional book some lessons I learned from those people and the community they, along with the Spirit, brought into being. I learned that when there is real community in the church 1) there is immersion in the Word; 2) people pray for each other, and 3) and believers are bound together by mutually agreed upon accountability. I learned from the faith journey of those folks that community is not forced, legislated, or structured by a planning committee, but something created when these elements are present.
For almost four decades I preached about it, planned for it, and bought into programs of the larger church which promised it. No matter what I did, creating community always seemed to be one of those much-sought-after goals that remained too elusive to capture. And, then they did it before my very eyes. Those folks God brought together for a holy experiment created community and lived it in a way that still leaves me wondering why I could not have understood sooner.