by Taylor Norris/ July 28, 2020
I believe that we just went through one of the hardest seasons that impacted all sects of society and there was no one exempt from the impact of COVID-19. We do not know the full impact that this virus will have on the world. (Well, unless you are reading this way into the future.) One area that I do know that has had a tremendous impact is the community that we have...or thought that we had. When the whole world shut down, the community that we had in the church and in our jobs suddenly went to online.
The primary way that the church had discipleship and community was on a Sunday morning or a Wednesday night. Suddenly, everything shifted. Discipleship for our kids is gone on a consistent basis and the community we had in church was no longer made available to us. So where do we go from here?
Regardless of what stage or phase of life that we are in, we can see that spiritual growth is better when it is done through community. In his book titled, Changes that Heal, Dr. Cloud writes "God has created us with hunger for relationship and that hunger is with God and with people.” At the core of who we are, we are wired for relationships. We were never meant to live life alone. If that was possible, God would have never had a desire to create Eve for Adam. We thrive in life and in relationships when there is a community of people that we can share life with. No matter what stage or phase, there is always people that we can relate to and people that can encourage us to be all that God has called us to become. No matter what success or accomplishments that we can accrue, none of this would matter if we do not have a community. This is why community and discipleship should be at the forefront of our lives and in our ministry.
I believe that discipleship and community go hand-in-hand with each other. Without discipleship, there is no purpose. Without community, there is no intentionality. As Christ-Followers we are called to live in such a way that is worthy for other people to follow Jesus. The essence of discipleship is to become more like Christ. How can we become more like Jesus without people encouraging us and cheering us on in the faith? When I think of discipleship, I think of moments that people have spoken into my life. These are trusted voices that I had in my life and I valued their wisdom, insight, and encouragement. As Proverbs 27:17 states “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” When we are engaged with discipleship, we not only are growing into our purpose, but we are also leading other people along in the process.
When we have a strong community of people in our lives, I believe that we begin to thrive in our lives and in our ministry. Life is more enjoyable when we are able to share it with people! In the hardest times in my life and in the greatest times in my life, having people in my life have made me a better Christ-Follower, Husband, and Pastor. When we have no community there is no intentionality and drive to be all that God has called us to become. If we look at Jesus, he surrounded himself with 12 people in order to carry out the redemptive plan that God has for the world. We need people in our lives that will help and remind us see the redemptive plan that God has for us. How would we be able to grow if no one is able to show us? How would we be able to share moments in the valley or on the mountain top if we do not have a community of people to share life with?
God does not want us to be in isolation in any season in our lives. Once we are isolated, we begin to lose our purpose and our intentionality with life. When we combine discipleship and community, we are able to live life the way God intended for us to live. Which is to live our lives abundantly! Find people that you can share life with and can challenge you to become all that God wants you to be. Regardless of what stage or phase of life we are in, we are wired and have a huge need for community. Community can look like reaching out to our neighbors and getting together or even attending a virtual life group (small groups) through a local church. There is a pocket of people that God has for us to share life with and when we are well-surrounded with people, we have a solid foundation that allows us to become all that God has planned and designed us to be.