Becoming Beloved Community - Grow Together As People Who Love God


    In a world often characterized by individualism and fragmentation, the concept of growing together as people who love God stands as a powerful counter-narrative. This journey of collective spiritual growth is not just a communal activity but a profound expression of our love for God and each other. It involves building strong relationships, engaging in shared spiritual practices, and fostering an environment where everyone can grow in faith.

    Importance Of Growing Together In Faith

    The significance of growing together in faith cannot be overstated. It is in community that we find support, encouragement, and accountability. The Christian life, as depicted in the Bible, is inherently communal. Jesus Himself emphasized the importance of community, gathering His disciples and teaching them to love and serve one another. The early church also thrived on the principles of shared life and mutual edification

    Recently, a member of a connection group shared a heartfelt confession about feeling disconnected from God and overwhelmed by a difficult season in life. She asked, "How can I feel like God isn’t so distant?" This is a profound and relatable question.

    The following day, another group member texted about his own spiritual struggles. He mentioned, “I’m working through some stuff, and it’s not going very well. I figured it'd be best for me to stay busy and keep my head down. I’m kind of a mess and don’t want to affect anyone else.” This resonated with everyone deeply. When we face discouragement and struggles, we tend to isolate ourselfs, attempting to resolve our issues alone before re-engaging with others.

    Many American Christians view spiritual disciplines and formation as private activities. We often think of our devotional times—quiet moments spent reading the Bible and praying—as solitary. Indeed, personal time with God is crucial. Jesus himself “would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16), and this is a practice we should emulate.

    However, we often overemphasize individual spirituality in the West. Our faith’s most vulnerable parts frequently become isolated from the community. Yet the Bible suggests that many spiritual practices are intended to be communal.

    In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he invites us to be built together into “a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph 2:21), “a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph 2:22). Through the church, “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known” (Eph 3:10). It is within the community of “all the saints” that we can “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19). For the purpose of unity in the Spirit, Christ gives us gifts. As we share these gifts, we grow together in faith and knowledge, reaching maturity (Eph 4:3, 13). We speak the truth in love, countering the world’s ignorance.

    In community, we encourage and forgive one another, reject worldly patterns, and remind each other of God’s truths through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21).

    A vibrant and growing faith often flourishes in community. While personal prayer and Bible studyare essential, God also invites us into communal spiritual practices.

    Research shows that people are more likely to stick to commitments like exercise and healthy eating when they do so with a partner. The same can be true for spiritual disciplines. While we read the Bible and pray alone daily, we’ll find great joy in doing these activities with our family.

    Incorporating your piano skills into a faith-based settingcan open up unique opportunities for passive income. By offering online piano lessons to members of your faith community or creating music that resonates with spiritual themes, you can attract a dedicated audience. This approach not only helps you generate income but also fosters a sense of purpose and community, reflecting the concept of "Grow Together As People Who Love God." Leveraging your skills to contribute to your community's spiritual growth can be both fulfilling and financially rewarding.

    Here are some tips for making your devotional time more communal, tailored to different life stages:

    • For singles- Many single friends of mine have daily or weekly FaceTime calls to read the Bible and pray together. Others meet weekly for coffee and study, or use group texts for prayer and encouragement. No elaborate plan is necessary; simply read, discuss, and pray together.
    • For newlyweds- Set aside time over breakfast or dinner to read the Bible and pray together daily.
    • For young families- Bedtime is often a great time for family devotionals. Use resources like Sally Lloyd-Jones’s The Jesus Storybook Bible or Kevin DeYoung’s The Biggest Story. Sing songs and pray over your children each night, ensuring they feel the joy and love of the gospel.
    • For growing families - As children grow older, coordinating schedules can be challenging. Consider waking the kids earlier for morning devotionals over breakfast.
    • For families with teens- Increased commitments can make finding time difficult. Devotions over breakfast can be effective, or protect one evening a week for extended family worship.
    • For empty nesters- Establish new rhythms, whether in the morning or evening. Make spiritual disciplines enjoyable and fresh, and use your freedom to explore new settings for prayer. If possible, travel to places of biblical significance.

    Understanding The Concept Of Loving God

    Loving God is the greatest commandment, as stated in Matthew 22:37-38, where Jesus says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." This love is not merely an emotional response but a deep, abiding commitment to live according to God's will.

    First, understanding God is necessary for loving Him, and His Word is the first source of knowledge. Though it may sound corny, knowing Him is loving Him.

    To worship and give thanks to God is to love Him. "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only'" Luke 4:8. Many lovely examples of how to worship and honor our Creator can be found in the book of Psalms (Psalms 8, 19, 23, 24, 67, 99, 117, and 150, for example).

    Putting God first is a sign of love. Loving God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” is the first commandment (Mark 12:30). It is an unconditional love.

    Our first priority is God. We will not let anything else encroach on our time if we truly love God with all of our hearts, souls, brains, and strength. As Mark 12:31 states, we show our love for God by loving others, but we do not love worldly possessions. Psalm 73:25 states, "Earth has nothing I desire besides you." Love for what the world has to offer might lead us astray (2 Timothy 4:10); we cannot love God and the current world simultaneously (1 John 2:15).

    To be in love with God is to want Him, to thirst for His grace, His Word, and His righteousness. "My soul pants for you, O God, as the deer pants for streams of water" (Psalm 42:1). After experiencing and realizing the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 34:8), we yearn for more of Him. Mary of Bethany, who "sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said," is an example of what it means to love God (Luke 10:39). The psalmist's description of God's Word, "[it is] more precious than gold, than much pure gold;... sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb," will strike a chord in us if we love God (Psalm 19:10).

    Let's say a man gets a letter from his sweetie after they part ways. He'll eagerly open the letter and read through its contents as his initial move. He will naturally love her correspondence with him because he loves his lover. We should feel the same way about God's Word. We adore the Author and His message to us because we love Him. We cherish it, read it repeatedly, and bury its words deep within our hearts.

    To love God, then, is to submit to Him. As Jesus states in John 14:15–23, 15:10, and 1 John 5–3, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." But doing the right thing and recording nice deeds is not enough in this case. It has to do with the love of God being permanently etched on our hearts. To gratify the people we love is in our nature. Loving God makes us anxious to obey Him and want to please Him. I enjoy carrying out your plan (Psalm 40:8).

    The Bible provides numerous examples of individuals who demonstrated profound love for God. Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22) illustrates total obedience and trust in God. David's psalms often express a deep, personal love and yearning for God. In the New Testament, Paul’s transformation and tireless missionary work exemplify a life dedicated to God.

    The Role Of Community In Spiritual Growth

    The concept of community is deeply rooted in Scripture. From the beginning, God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18), highlighting our need for companionship. The early Christian community, described in Acts 2:42-47, exemplifies a life of shared resources, communal worship, and mutual support.

    Spirituality has gained popularity, often contrasted with religion. Many today share profound quotes online under the tag "Being Spiritual!" Yet, do these posts truly capture spirituality's essence? Spirituality delves into understanding the soul and answering fundamental questions about existence and purpose. It's about realizing truths like karma, rebirth, and connecting with a Supreme Immortal Power (SIP) beyond human grasp. We are more than our bodies and minds; we're immortal souls, sparks of unique life energy.

    Communities, defined by shared interests or beliefs, support individuals in various pursuits. Can they aid spiritual growth? While communities claim to assist, spiritual progress is deeply personal. Its pinnacle, Moksha (liberation), hinges on individual karma and unique paths. Communities support socially, economically, and religiously, yet spiritual evolution is solitary. It's a quest for self-realization and understanding, necessitating personal effort.

    Religious communities introduce God's concept, akin to kindergarten in spiritual education. Spirituality, its university counterpart, unveils God's true nature. Communities foster God's pursuit, steering towards spiritual journeys. However, true spirituality often transcends religion, guided by enlightened masters. Spiritual communities comprise diverse seekers, inspiring with shared wisdom and practices. Amidst fatigue and doubt, they offer vital encouragement.

    While spiritual journeys are singular, communities offer significant, albeit indirect, support. They uphold motivation, sustain focus, and enrich the quest. Alone yet together, seekers navigate the path towards enlightenment, united by shared experiences and spiritual guidance.

    The First Christian Communities

    After Jesus' death, early Christian communities emerged initially in Jerusalem and Galilee. Over time, members began spreading Christ’s message beyond, first to Jewish communities in Antioch, Damascus, and the Mesopotamian Diaspora. Christian presence likely extended to Babylon, possibly Armenia, and Georgia.

    The message reached Asia Minor, spanning the Anatolian Plateau to Greek cities like Ephesus, Macedonia, and the Greek peninsula. Alexandria's administration also learned of Christianity, influencing Egypt and the North African coast toward Cyrene. In Rome, Jewish communities knew of Christianity before 50 AD, from where it spread westward within the Empire.

    Around 44 AD in Palestine, James the Less led early groups in Jerusalem, termed Judeo-Christians as Christianity initially aligned closely with Judaism. Disputes arose between Hellenistic Jews and Hebraic Jews, known as Hebrews, around this time.

    In 48 or 49 AD, a significant debate in Jerusalem involved Hellenist Paul and Hebrew James concerning non-Jewish admission to Christianity. Paul advocated entry without Jewish obligations like circumcision, whereas James required abstaining from pagan sacrifices.

    In 66 AD, Jewish zealots rebelled against Rome, culminating in the 70 AD siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of its Temple, a central Jewish site. The ensuing turmoil saw the disappearance of most Jewish sects, except the Pharisees, who established Rabbinic Schools.

    Between 132 and 135 AD, Palestine again faced conflict, leading to Jerusalem's devastation and Jewish expulsion. Christian scholars interpreted these events as divine retribution for Jesus' death.

    By this period, Christianity and Judaism had definitively separated into distinct religions, marking a significant evolution from their earlier shared roots.

    Why Is The Christian Community Important?

    The significance of the Christian community in our lives as Christians cannot be overstated. Jesus formed a community by gathering his followers around him. The majority of the early church's existence was spent in communal settings. We get so much from being surrounded by other believers for our faith, and I want to discuss the reasons why our Christian community is so crucial!

    As Christians, our calling is fundamentally rooted in serving one another, echoing the teachings of scripture. The passage from 1 Peter 4:9-10 emphasizes hospitality without complaint and using our unique gifts to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace.

    Community provides a platform where we intimately know others' needs, fostering opportunities to extend help and support. Whether through organized activities like service projects within youth groups or informal encouragement among believers, community empowers us to spur one another towards acts of love and good deeds, as Hebrews 10:24 encourages.

    Galatians 6:2 highlights the mutual support within a community, where we share each other’s burdens, fulfilling Christ’s law of love. This support spans from celebrating successes and encouraging each other’s faith to helping through trials and doubts.

    Romans 12:4-8 beautifully illustrates the unity and diversity within the Churchas a single body. Just as each part of our physical body has a distinct role, so too do Christians possess different gifts given by God. Whether it’s prophecy, teaching, serving, or leading, every member contributes uniquely to the body’s function. Without each member using their gifts, the body cannot operate fully, underscoring the importance of every believer’s active participation in community.

    Today’s digital age offers tremendous resources for learning and connecting globally, yet it cannot substitute for physical Christian community. While online platforms are valuable for education and inspiration, they lack the personal, relational depth found in local church gatherings. A physically present community knows us intimately, supporting us practically through life’s challenges and celebrating alongside us in our joys.

    James 5:13-16 & 19-20 illustrates the power of prayer and mutual accountability within Christian community. Here, believers are called to pray for one another, confess sins openly, and restore each other gently when needed. Such interactions are essential for nurturing and strengthening our faith.

    Moreover, Christian community serves as a vital context for passing on our faith to others. Titus provides a model of mature Christians mentoring and guiding newer believers, facilitating growth and discipleship. In a community setting, we not only deepen our own faith but also have the privilege of guiding others on their spiritual journey.

    In essence, Christian community is indispensable for spiritual growth, mutual support, passing on faith, and fulfilling our call to serve one another as Christ taught. It is within these relationships that our faith is nurtured, tested, and ultimately, lived out in service to God and others.

    7 Tips For A Deeper Relationships At Church

    Navigating friendships, especially within church communities, can indeed be challenging, often taking longer than expected to develop meaningful connections. It's a reality I encounter frequently when speaking with newer members at Trinity Church, who express disappointment after attending for several months without substantial friendships forming. I'm often tempted to respond, "That's a great start. It will take about a decade."

    Why? The hurdles are many. Firstly, we're often isolated from the very relationships we need most. Secondly, our sense of loneliness, though sometimes unrecognized, pervades our lives. Consequently, we feel overwhelmed, busy, and disconnected, making it difficult to cultivate deep, authentic friendships in any setting, including church.

    Why do we feel this way within the church? This question is explored in "Why Do We Feel Lonely at Church?" by Jeremy Linneman, which addresses the loneliness epidemic within congregations. It encourages readers to pursue fellowship and urges church leaders to foster communities reflective of Jesus's mission and care.

    Friends, the challenges you face are real. There's nothing wrong with you for feeling this way. Making and maintaining friendships, especially in today's society—even within the church—can be unexpectedly difficult. However, the solution isn't to lower your expectations or brace for disappointment. Instead, it's about embracing the challenge, rejecting isolation, and embracing genuine, vulnerable relationships face-to-face. This is something we can achieve together.

    Embrace Your Need For People

    Humans are inherently needful beings. The truth is that we are all needy people, even though we could use the term "needy people" disparagingly. Our bodies require oxygen, food, water, and sleep. Our emotional needs include belonging and being validated. We naturally require relationships, such as those with our family, friends, and spiritual group.

    We depend on one another because we are relational beings created in the image of the triune God. We also need people who share our love for God and our beliefs about faith and the church if we are to be spiritually full and well. To put it simply, we require church buddies.

    It is neither a sign of wrongdoing nor something to be ashamed of when we find ourselves in need of others. Even in the garden, when Adam and God were alone, he had no true human company. Loneliness was the first issue facing the globe. He rejoiced when God gave him Eve as a result. Obviously, knowing God and being known by Him is what we most need. However, being a person also means needing a community and friends.

    Discover God’s Heart For Your Belonging

    Christian theology and the biblical narrative are rich sources of belonging. The Scriptures describe belonging in three different ways: (1) we belong to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); (2) we are no longer in control of ourselves or the outside world; and (3) we are a part of the church community.

    Fitting in is not the same as belonging; belonging is far more fulfilling than just being around other people. One of our most basic human desires is to fit in. We will always be tempted to look outside of God and each other for our identity, and that identity to be found in our social standing, popularity, and performance. However, it is terrible to find our identity in such materialistic things. As stated by Tim Keller, “Anything except Jesus will desert you in the end and disappoint you along the way.”

    What does genuine belonging mean? Being completely recognized and loved by God and your community is what it means to truly belong.

    This safe place can only be provided by belonging to God, and via him, to each other in the church. We shall be set and rooted in who he created us when we are safe in Christ, and we shall belong to him and to one another in the church. In light of the difficulties in fostering relationships inside the church, we need to keep God's heart in mind for our place.

    Remember Those That Need You

    But we also need our church buddies to grow into more giving, compassionate individuals. Robert Putnam, a Harvard scholar and the author of the critically acclaimed book Bowling Alone, has researched why religious individuals make better neighbors than nonreligious ones. Putnam narrowed down the list of criteria to connections within the church after eliminating many that had no connection to more unselfish behavior, such as denominational tradition and strong views. According to his findings, those who have the closest ties to members of their own spiritual community also tend to be the most giving and compassionate toward those who are not part of it.

    Putnam notes that "church friends seem super-charged... of all the relationships that correlate with well-being and selfless action toward others,... Our data indicates that the influence of church friends extends beyond just having friends and practicing a religion.

    Healthy Christian communities are united by what we stand for, but many modern social organizations may be recognized by what they oppose. Our purpose in life is to enjoy and honor God, to become more like Christ, and to mature in Christ as a result of other people's presence. We will stagnate in our Christlikeness and find it difficult to love people outside of the church if we don't have church buddies.

    Rebuild Your Schedule For Relationships

    We are drawn away from the biblical community and toward radical individualism, social isolation, and self-centeredness by our entire society. We will need to live very different lifestyles from our non-Christian classmates and neighbors if we are to resist this relentless pull. Our lives need to be reoriented toward community.

    We will need to reject the rush-hour culture around us and slow down in order to foster meaningful relationships at church. We might not be able to work on the weekends or late into the evening. We must schedule time to visit with friends, attend a weekly Bible study or small group, or perform community service.

    A new set of priorities and a new set of daily rhythms are necessary for a profoundly linked life with others. Still, it is well worth it.

    That's precisely what Jesus accomplished during his earthly life and mission. His approach to relationships is radical, as evidenced by his life. He gave his all to his disciples, his closest companions. He attended funerals, weddings, and social gatherings. He hung out with friends, searchers, and doubters at dinner tables. He deliberately went after the most alone and disengaged individuals of the community. He interacted patiently and charitably with people from different cultures.

    How would it look for us to follow in the footsteps of the Son of God if this is how he lived his earthly life? To meet people where they are rather than just act as the host? To go after those who have left the fold? to attend get-togethers and events with purpose and intention?

    Make Room For Others Who Are Outside

    In my years in ministry, I have heard many people lament that they feel alone or that no one has reached out to them. I always start out by bemoaning that and sharing their grief. However, I also tell them that those who take the initiative and make room for others are usually the ones with the strongest connections. Even though it may seem counterintuitive, if you show initiative and make room for others, your connections will eventually overflow.

    Making space for others is a habit that is uniquely Christian. It involves more than just opening our houses; it involves living and loving in a way that is consistent with Christ. Biblical hospitality encompasses a variety of actions, such as making room in our homes for our fellow Christians, our schedules and hearts for non-Christians, our groups for neighbors and coworkers, and our lives for the underprivileged and marginalized.

    The church can welcome individuals who do not know Christ with open arms, just as Christ came to us and welcomed us when we were strangers (Rom. 15:7). Paul strongly exhorts the church to "show hospitality" (Rom. 12:13) as part of his instructions for them to embrace self-giving love for one another. Even though Christians have always practiced hospitality, it is especially crucial in remote areas.

    Each of us has experienced hospitality from others, and now we want to return the favor by opening our homes to the upcoming churchgoers as well as our own neighbors, coworkers, and friends. Of course, this idea of hospitality goes beyond simple amusement. Placing our best food on display, showcasing our house, and inviting our most alluring people are all part of entertaining; it centers the attention on ourselves. However, hospitality places the emphasis on the other. As Christians, it is our responsibility to extend a hand to people who are outside of our community, modeling the warm embrace of Jesus.

    Join Together In Prayer

    We would be prudent to emphasize prayer together in order to foster authentic Christian community, even though this may seem obvious or even presumptuous. We have to seek and enjoy God's presence together if we want to be a genuinely spiritual community rather than just another social club or friend clique. The term "do life together" has appeared in almost every Christian book on community that I have read over the past 20 years. Among them is myself. I have stated this innumerable times. We may and ought to be living life together; attending church and community groups is not sufficient. And I really think that.

    However, I also think that living life together is insufficient.

    Life can be experienced by all and leave no one unaffected—one can remain the same in terms of impatience, rudeness, avarice, or rage. As followers of Christ, our aim is to progressively conform to the person and ways of Christ in order to exalt God via our conformity to him. As a result, our relationships can and ought to pursue spiritual growth together. Therefore, prayer together is a necessary practice of partnerships that are Christlike.

    Pray with other believers if you wish to become closer to them. Pray as a group, either formally (in a prayer meeting or small group) or casually. At first, it could seem strange to interrupt a conversation with a friend and ask, "Can I really just pray with you right now?" However, I promise that you won't regret taking a few minutes to slow down and pray with a buddy, and that they won't say no too often.

    Remain, Despite The Difficulty

    The fleeting nature of our work culture is one of the modern era's hidden issues. I have nothing against upward mobility that helps people and families escape poverty, but when we dedicate ourselves to upward mobility at all costs, we repeatedly lose something important. Establishing and sustaining meaningful relationships will be nearly impossible if we are constantly shifting towns and communities every two to four years. In a similar vein, we can experience the same loss if we stay in the same city but move to other church congregations every few years.

    When the Church Was a Family: Joseph Hellerman, an early church researcher, says it well.

    Community is the primary setting for spiritual formation. Individuals who stay in touch with their fellow members of the local church nearly always experience a growth in self-awareness. Genuine advancement in the Christian life is only possible through long-term interpersonal relationships. Those that stick around develop.

    This is a strikingly accurate comment, in my opinion: those that stick around grow. Yes, it will be more difficult and call for periods of perseverance and hardship. Resolving conflicts with friends and others of your community might be part of it. It could even include turning down a raise or promotion. But in the end, it will be worthwhile. One of the most crucial components of a developing, flourishing spiritual life is stability.

    Practical Ways To Grow Together Spiritually

    • Group Bible Studies and Discussions - Group Bible studies are an excellent way to grow together spiritually. They provide a platform for learning, sharing insights, and applying biblical truths to our lives. These studies can be structured around specific books of the Bible, themes, or topical issues, encouraging deep engagement with Scripture.
    • Prayer Meetings and Intercessory Prayer- Prayer is a powerful tool for spiritual growth. Regular prayer meetings help build a sense of unity and reliance on God. Intercessory prayer, where members pray for each other’s needs, strengthens bonds and fosters a supportive community. James 5:16 underscores this, stating, "Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
    • Worship and Music Ministry- Worship through music and song is a vital part of spiritual growth. It allows the community to express their love for God collectively. Engaging in worship together fosters a sense of unity and helps individuals to connect with God on a deeper level. Music ministry can also be a means of outreach and evangelism.
    • Service and Outreach Programs- Serving others is a practical expression of God’s love. Community service and outreach programs provide opportunities for members to live out their faith through acts of kindness and service. These activities not only meet practical needs but also build relationships within the community and demonstrate God’s love to others.

    The Impact Of Shared Spiritual Practices

    • Collective Worship and its Benefits- Collective worship is a cornerstone of Christian community life. It brings believers together to glorify God, receive teaching, and encourage one another. The benefits of collective worship include spiritual renewal, a sense of belonging, and the collective affirmation of faith.
    • Shared Fasting and Meditation- Fasting and meditation are powerful spiritual disciplines that can be practiced individually and collectively. Shared fasting involves a community setting aside time to fast and pray together, seeking God’s guidance and intervention. Meditation on Scripture together helps deepen understanding and application of God’s Word.
    • Celebrating Sacraments Together- Celebrating sacraments such as Communion and Baptism as a community is vital. These acts are outward expressions of inward faith and commitment. They serve to remind the community of Christ’s sacrifice and the new life we have in Him, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose.

    The Role Of Leadership In Spiritual Growth

    Why did God choose Gideon to be the deliverer of Israel? Israel was clearly under attack from the Midianites and Amalekites, and the people needed to be relieved of their misery. But why did God assign Gideon to that position of authority? Judges 6:12, which states, "Then the angel of the Lord appeared to [Gideon] and said, 'The Lord is with you, valiant warrior,'" is one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament. This text is amazing since it portrays Gideon as neither a warrior nor a brave man! In addition to working as his father's farmhand (not exactly a warrior), he hides in a winepress to do his tasks.

    Nevertheless, Gideon would go on to become one of Israel's greatest judges. He was a bold leader, a formidable warrior, and an efficient deliverer. His narrative imparts wisdom that can uplift us and direct the path of our leadership.

    • Pastoral Leadership and Guidance- Pastors and church leaders play a crucial role in guiding the spiritual growth of their congregations. They provide teaching, pastoral care, and vision for the community. Effective pastoral leadership involves being approachable, wise, and spiritually mature.
    • Role of Elders and Deacons- Elders and deacons support pastoral leadership by taking on specific roles within the church. Elders often focus on teaching and spiritual oversight, while deacons handle practical aspects of church life, such as administration and service. Their roles are vital for maintaining a healthy and functioning church community.
    • Mentorship and Discipleship Programs- Mentorship and discipleship programs are effective tools for spiritual growth. These programs pair mature believers with newer or younger Christians to provide guidance, support, and accountability. This one-on-one or small group interaction fosters deep, personal growth and discipleship.

    The Goal Of Your Leadership

    Let's pose the same query, but with a focus on you: Why did God choose you for this position? I've sat with a lot of young leaders who ask themselves the same question and feel scared of the new role they're taking on. Conversely, when we are dissatisfied during a leadership season, we occasionally pose a query along these lines. When faced with challenges, disappointments, and hostility, we wonder why God would permit these issues to get in the way of our efforts. It's possible that confusion, disappointments, and failures have prompted you to wonder why God has placed you in this position.

    It's not a terrible idea to inquire. How does God want you to use your leadership position? We made the error of thinking that God had called us to a place where he could work through us. We agreed to take on volunteer work, a pastorate, or a non-profit position in a church with big dreams to pursue.

    But this is not the main purpose God has for your leadership. His greatest desire for your leadership is to accomplish something in you, not something he plans to accomplish through you. In his book The Character of Leadership, Jeff Iorg stated that "leadership roles are God's laboratories for leaders." God has placed us in our current location (or may call us to a new one) to provide the ideal environment in which to continue transforming us into the likeness of Jesus.

    Make A Small Change In Your Leadership

    We are aware of how crucial character is to leadership. The primary factor that we constantly take into account while creating leadership pipelines is the basic capability of "character." Christian leadership requires unwavering character. The issue is that we have a propensity to forget what God wants us to do as leaders. Thus, I have to continue developing my character in order to uphold my leadership. My "role" takes precedence over my persona. Rather, we must perceive our leadership as fostering our spiritual development in Christ. Leadership responsibilities are secondary to character development.

    I'm putting out what Daniel Im refers to as a "micro-shift," or a minor adjustment that triggers a major one. The way we view leadership is changing from being mostly about character development to being primarily about spiritual formation. We will be stronger in the face of adversity, more receptive to God's guidance, and inspired to accept callings.

    How To Use The Shift

    We are able to pursue and facilitate this micro-shift with concrete actions. Starting with that internal shift in viewpoint is necessary. Take it in via scripture and prayer. Increasing your awareness of God's presence and guidance in your life is the key to putting this change into practice. Take these actions to deepen your spiritual practice.

    Re-establish Your Identity In Christ As You Start Your Day.

    According to Steve Cuss, ministry leaders frequently forget that they are also recipients of God's grace and instead only consider themselves as channels for it. One method to prevent that propensity is to engage in this first practice. Pray before God every morning, sense his love, and remember that you are, first and foremost, his child because of his grace. Your family, community, or leadership roles do not define who you are. All the other responsibilities in your life spring from your identity, which is firmly rooted in Christ.

    You may be the type of person who completes your nightly devotions. It's alright. As long as the prayer is focused, this period of time can be short. It will probably be more beneficial if combined with another routine, such as preparing breakfast, reading a passage from the Bible, or participating in worship.

    Assess Your Awareness Of God As You Close Your Day.

    It is important to evaluate how well you were able to keep your awareness of God's presence and your identity in him throughout the day, just as you did in the beginning. Consider your awareness of God's presence as you go through each moment of your day in prayer with God.

    It is imperative that you avoid passing judgment on yourself while taking this test. You're not attempting to punish yourself for insignificant errors. Of course, we could become aware of our sin, which is something that God deserves to hear about. The major objective is to improve our capacity to recognize God and obey his will on a daily basis.

    Employ Standard Check-in Inquiries.

    Lastly, I've discovered that asking clarifying questions at frequent intervals to get an update on my experiences and feelings has been beneficial. A fantastic weekly series of questions is provided by my buddy Alan Briggs: Where am I thriving? Where am I having trouble? What seems unclear to you at this moment? What is currently absent? These questions serve as a great way to have a general check-in with God. I would advise adding these to your weekly schedule.

    Overcoming Challenges To Growing Together

    • Addressing Diverse Theological Views- Diverse theological views can lead to divisions within a community. It is important to approach these differences with a spirit of humility and a willingness to learn from each other. Focusing on the core tenets of the faith and agreeing to disagree on secondary issues can help maintain unity.
    • Navigating Generational Differences - Generational differences can pose challenges to growing together. Older and younger members may have different worship styles, communication preferences, and viewpoints. Creating spaces for intergenerational dialogue and activities can help bridge these gaps and foster mutual understanding and respect.
    • Handling Personal and Group Crises- Crises, whether personal or group-related, can strain relationships and community dynamics. It is crucial to have support systems in place, such as counseling services, prayer chains, and crisis intervention teams. These resources can provide the necessary support to navigate difficult times and emerge stronger as a community.
    • Integrating faith and community support can play a crucial role in the holistic management of epilepsy. By participating in faith-based groups and activities, individuals can find strength and solace, helping them cope better with their condition. This aligns with the principle of "Grow Together As People Who Love God," emphasizing the importance of spiritual well-being alongside natural and alternative therapies. Sharing experiences and supporting each other within a faith-based community can significantly enhance the overall quality of life for those managing epilepsy

    Case Studies Of Successful Christian Communities

    Historical Examples- Historical examples of successful Christian communities, such as the early church in Acts, the monastic communities of the Middle Ages, and the Moravian Church, provide valuable lessons. These communities thrived by living out the principles of shared life, mutual support, and dedicated spiritual practices.

    Modern-Day Examples- Modern-day examples include thriving church communities, small groups, and parachurch organizations. Examples like Saddleback Church, Hillsong, and various intentional Christian communities show how contemporary believers can grow together in faith through innovative approaches and strong leadership.

    Lessons Learned from These Communities- From these historical and modern examples, we learn the importance of strong leadership, a clear vision, shared spiritual practices, and a commitment to community life. These elements are crucial for fostering a thriving Christian community that grows together in love for God and one another.

    The Future Of Growing Together In Faith

    • Adapting to Technological Changes- As technology continues to evolve, Christian communities must adapt to stay connected and relevant. Online platforms, social media, and digital tools can enhance communication, provide new avenues for worship and learning, and reach wider audiences.
    • Embracing Cultural Diversity- Embracing cultural diversity enriches a community and reflects the global nature of the Church. It involves recognizing and valuing different cultural expressions of faith, fostering inclusivity, and learning from each other’s experiences.
    • Strategies for Sustaining Long-Term Growth- Sustaining long-term growth requires a focus on discipleship, ongoing education, and community engagement. It involves creating a culture of continuous learning, service, and support, ensuring that the community remains vibrant and spiritually healthy.
    • Social media - Social media can be a powerful toolfor faith-based organizations to build and strengthen their brand identity. By sharing content that resonates with spiritual values and community activities, these organizations can create a strong and recognizable presence online. This strategy aligns with the idea of "Grow Together As People Who Love God," as it emphasizes the collective growth and unity of the community. Engaging with followers through meaningful and spiritually enriching content helps reinforce the brand's identity and fosters a deeper connection with the audience.

    Final Thoughts

    We have explored the concept of growing together as people who love God. We discussed the biblical foundation for community, the role of relationships within the church, practical ways to foster spiritual growth, and the impact of shared practices. We also looked at the importance of leadership and strategies for overcoming challenges.

    Growing together in faith is a lifelong journey. It requires commitment, effort, and a willingness to learn and grow alongside others. By fostering strong relationships, engaging in shared spiritual practices, and supporting each other, we can create a vibrant and spiritually enriching community.

    As we strive to grow together as people who love God, let us continually seek His guidance and strength. May our communities be places of love, support, and spiritual growth, reflecting God’s love to the world around us. Amen.

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