The Community Guide below is based on Sunday’s teaching for our current series: Future Church. As your whole Community gathers (online or socially distanced), use the Community Guide below to give shape to your night together.
Begin by Practicing the Lord’s Supper Together (5 minutes)
Begin your night by partaking of the bread and the cup together. Have each person bring their own Communion elements. To facilitate your time, you can either ask a member of your Community to come ready with a short prayer, liturgy, or scripture reading, or assign someone to read the passage of scripture we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing:
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11v23–26)
Emotional Health Check-in (10 Minutes)
As we focus in on this series, we want to continue to create space for checking in on each other, but doing so in a shorter amount of time. Take a few minutes to do an emotional health check-in with your Community, creating space for each person to answer the question below:
- What are three words you’d use to describe your week?
If the need arises, spend a few minutes praying for one another, asking God to meet needs and help each person carry what feels heavy right now.
Read this Overview (5 Mins)
The American experience and western culture in general are rooted in radical individualism. We are trained to look out for our own interest above all others, constantly pushing to get what we want or “deserve” and pursue our own desires over those of others. Yet, the way of Jesus and our experience show us that while looking out for our own interests and living in extreme independence—while it may be easier in the short term—leads to unhappiness in the long term. For better or worse, we need each other.
In Romans 12, Paul paints pictures of the people of God as inextricably intertwined: both as a family of brothers and sisters, as well as a body with many parts, all of which need one another. That said, if you keep reading the New Testament, and honestly if you pursue any relationship beyond the surface level, you will discover depth and community to be challenging. To stick with Community for the long haul, it becomes essential to learn to do three things:
- Forgive each other for not being God. We bring high expectations to our Community at times, don’t we? We want our wounds healed, to be bound up, to be pursued, to be seen, known, to be loved unconditionally. And these are not bad things to want! But we are all human, and we all fail each other at times. When that happens—when, not if—we have to make the hard choice to love each other anyway.
- Listen in love. Give relational space for each others’ stories, joys, and hurts. Share the deep stuff of your person, not just the facts of your life. Rejoice in one another’s successes, and grieve one another’s sorrows.
- Stay. This may sound simple, but anyone who has been in relationship with anyone else long term (whether your Bridgetown Community, a best friend, your children, or your spouse) can tell you that sometimes, simply sticking it out is the hardest part.
During this series, we’ll each be crafting (or revisiting) a working Rule of Life to help create structure through which Jesus can grow and shape us to be more like Him. This week, we’ll be focusing on how to live in a community of tightly knit, loving relationships.
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (20 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- In your life, where do you see tendencies toward individualism? (Perhaps at work, in your family life, etc.)
- As you consider the three calls to forgive each other, listen in love, and stay, which (if any!) feels the most challenging for you in this season? Which (if any!) feels most natural?
- What fruit or blessing have you experienced from choosing to stick with relationships (community or otherwise) for the long haul?
Practice For The Week Ahead: Revisiting your Rule of Life for Community (10 Minutes)
Sometime this week, download our Rule of Life worksheet. This worksheet is meant to help you have an overview of your Rule of Life. Please note that the goal is not to fill in every box, but to come to a good balance and rhythm in each category. Some Practices will have more boxes filled in than others; that’s ok!
This week, as you consider the Community subsection, consider what your existing practices are in this area and write them down. Then take some time to reflect on and pray through what healthy rhythms of relationship could be for you, and what your next step might be to move toward Community and close relationships. Remember, aim to start where you are, not where you think you “should” be.
Here are a few ideas to get you started as you brainstorm and pray through your next step in Community and relationships:
- Entry-Level Practice: get together with another follower of Jesus for a regular walk or coffee or in-depth conversation. Move toward a level of communication in which you can share your true self, beyond simply facts or opinions.
- Baseline Practice: share a weekly meal with a community of followers of Jesus to eat and drink the Lord’s Supper, do life, pray, and practice the way of Jesus together.
- Reach Practice: establish a regular practice of the confession of sin with another follower of Jesus in your Community or Triad and the receiving together of Jesus’ forgiveness that comes to those who ask. (1 John 1v9)
Again, the aim in working toward Community in your life is not to add something new to your schedule every week, but rather to live life alongside others intentionally, vulnerably, and with love.
Prayer (10 Minutes)
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s grace over each other, that we might become a people who make Jesus our Lord, and that there might be a sweeping renewal of the Holy Spirit in our city. Ask that God would stir up within us a desire to be with him in prayer and to serve him, one another, and our neighbor in love.