Posted by: gillianbarratt | 31 March, 2010

A persuasive community

Continuing with the theme “the priority of community”, we looked at the idea of a Christian community as a persuasive witness for the gospel. Appropriately for Holy Week, the bible basis was Jesus’ prayer just before betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane:  John 17: 20-23 (here). Jesus prayed for His disciples, not just those who were with Him at that time, but also for all those who would believe in Him in the future. He prayed for them to be united so that in seeing their behaviour the rest of the world would recognize God’s love and believe.  So, how does this work out for us today?

We considered that unity does not necessarily mean homogeneity, as long as the divisions remain amicable. Different denominations can co-exist if they subscribe to the essentials: for us the Resurrection and Jesus being both God and man. Unity can be shown in working together to meet need in the community and by caring for each other on a day-to-day basis, while making it clear that the gospel is the power source for these actions.

Inviting outsiders to church activities can be problematic. The events which are most attractive to “outsiders”: summer fêtes, dances…, are those which can be considered as “fringe” activities by church members, but at least they allow contacts between people. The “expatriate“ situation in Maisons-Laffitte can be a double-edged sword: it brings people who might never go near a church in their home country into the community, but there is a danger of losing the focus on the gospel message and failing to help them progress from belonging to believing. We also questioned what the most effective community was: the whole church membership, a home group or a Christian family ready to reach out to others.

As practical expression of this theme, we will try to practise friendship in acts like inviting someone for coffee and also pray about these meetings beforehand so that they will become real gospel opportunities.

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