The goal of being in community is never about numbers. If you’re a pastor or leader, it’s not about simply getting more people into groups. If you’re a member of a community group, the goal is not to check the boxes that you read your Bible, went to church, and attended your group for the week.
If we’re not careful though, those are exactly the things that end up defining success. But if those things aren’t the goal, what is?
The goal of living in community
In The Trellis and the Vine, authors Colin Marshall and Tony Payne make the following assertion:
“Our goal is not to make church members or members of our institution, but genuine disciples of Jesus.”
This makes sense when thinking through God’s character nature. He is, above all, holy. This means many things, but one crucial thing which flows from this is that He is to be the supreme object of our affections. He is not content to be another thing in our lives; He desires and deserves to be the main thing.
So when it comes to training disciples of Jesus, that’s precisely who we should be training them to be like — Jesus. But all too often we’re training them to wave the flag of our church, our denomination, or our “brand” of Christianity.
This is a dangerous place to be.
It will not be your particular church or denomination or movement which reaches the ends of the earth with the gospel. It will no doubt be a part of it, but it will not constitute the whole of it. God never intended it to.
It is in His name and to His glory that we make disciples. It is in His name and to His glory that we form community groups, serve our neighbors, and teach the Bible to our children.When the gospel is ushered into each people group and among every tongue and tribe and nation on this planet only one name will be exalted—the name of one man whose movement precedes all of ours and will outlast them all of time—the man Jesus Christ.
“Success” is not simply getting more and more people into a community group or checking off all the right boxes, but loving obedience to the Great Commission and Great Commandments.
Every Christian is called to play a part in carrying out the Great Commission in their own lives and the lives of their church. At the same time, they are called to be a loving witness in action and in words to their brothers and sisters in Christ, and in the world around them. It could be summarized this way:
Make disciples. Love God. Love each other. Love the world.
This provides a framework for evaluating the success of our community groups, as well as any particular person we are discipling or training. Defining success, then, would look something like what you see below.
Our goal for members of our community group is to develop right relationships with:
- Knows, loves and follows Christ
- Empowered, filled and led by the Spirit
- Studies and obeys God’s Word
- Loves the church: Serves and encourages their brothers and sisters
- Makes disciples: Tells others about Jesus and models His ways
- Cares for others: Finds ways to practically show compassion to those in need
- Understands the brevity of life in light of eternity
- Not in love with the things or ways of the world
- Works hard and is content living simply
If those things are the goal and what you see above is what success looks like, then how do we plan to get there? Many, many things go into answering that question, but put simply, here is a plan for achieving the goals above.
Our plan to help members of our community group develop right relationships with God, people, and the world is to develop their:
- Personal study
- Group discussions
- Build relationships
- Attend worship services
- Family meals
- Group activities
- Serve the local community
- Make disciples
- Be the church
- Develop good work ethic
Both the goals and plans mentioned speak to all the things you hope to see in the lives of each of the people in your community group at some point.
Defining success, however you choose to do that, is crucial to keeping your group on track and being sure everyone understands where they’re headed.