Back in action after some much needed time unplugged. Hope you take some time to unplug this summer as well. One of the summer projects our groups team here at the Summit is working on is Re-vamping the new small group leader training course. I’m working with one of our groups guys, Brandon Hudson, to re-write everything. Our goal is to create 5 or 6 short videos a potential leader works through online (thanks to heather zempel for the idea) before coming to a 3 hour classroom style training where we do more nuts & bolts stuff. Anyway, giving you a sneak peek here so you can help me make it better. The title of the video series: Theology of Community in 5 Phrases. So, below is part 1.
1. CREATED BY COMMUNITY FOR COMMUNITY
One of the universal endeavors in the human experience is to find our identity. To find a calling or a purpose or just a driving vision that will compel us to live great lives. We are on a quest. We want to know who we are and what we are here for. Encoded into us is a need to know it. I love that the bible begins the answer to this question on the very first page. In the creation story God says that he created people, men and women, in HIS image. Literally it says “let US create man in OUR image.” From right there at the beginning of the human story we learn something significant about our identity. We are created in the image of God himself. His character & his attributes are, not duplicated nor absent, but somehow reflected in us. So when we look deeper into who our creator is, we don’t just learn about him, we learn something about ourselves at the same time.
Now here is where it gets good. That hint of the trinity in Genesis 1, unfolds through the rest of scripture to show us God is one God who exists in three distinct persons. God the Father, God the Son, and God the holy spirit. Three persons interdependently existing together in peace and harmony. God is a community within himself. It’s inherent to the nature of God.
Can you see the idea of reflecting the image of God starting to take form in us? Because he is relational we are, by design, relational creatures. Because God himself wasn’t alone, he called it “not good” when man was alone, and so he created a woman. And then, as 2 became 1 (hear whispers of God’s imprint) they were “very good.” So God created this family to be his representatives (literally) on earth. They would rule over it and carry out his will. That representation expanded from a family to a nation when God tapped Abraham to be the father of God’s people. The story of the rest of the Old Testament is one of a people and their fulfillment and failures to live in this calling. In the New Testament Christ said he came with a new covenant to create a new…people. A new community. called the Church. And this church would, together, be the means by which God would work on the earth. In each scene in redemptive history, God identified himself with a community. God is a community, and as those who he specifically designed to reflect him, we are created to live in community. To do anything less is sub-human.
For you and I today this means there is hope for our relationships. If God designed us for relationships, then there must be something there which far exceeds life in isolation. It means community is worth fighting for. Worth what will be a big effort.
It means marriages are meant to be healthy, enriching relationships that reflect the love of God for us. It means parenting is to be a love-filled relationship reflecting the care of the Father for us. It means work is to be an act of worship to the God whose work created us. Instead of looking out for #1, we are to mutually trust one another, and work together to reflect a triune God.
Over the next few sessions we are going to unpack all of this. Why it’s not happening like it should, why community must center on Jesus, and how we live as God’s community today. But before we go any further, take some time to reflect on this idea of imaging your creator. Spend some time answering the questions below to help work through this. We want our group leaders to be champions not of a program, but of community. A lot of our training will work through how that fleshes out, but that is useless unless you share in the dream to see God’s church be the healthy family he’s designed it to be.
1. Read Genesis 1.27-28
What implications does being made in God’s image have for you personally?
What is your hope for the small group you want to lead?
Where have you experienced strong community before? what made it strong?