Christian community is such an important part of how we live as Christians. Jesus gathered disciples around himself to create community. The early Church spent much of their time in community together. Having a community of other believers around us benefits us, and our faith in so many different ways – and I want to explore why our Christian community is so important!
God did not create us to do life alone, so if you currently do not have a Christian community around you, or are a new Christian just starting to grow in your faith, here are some of the reasons why Christian community is a really important thing for you to find.
Over the new few weeks, I will also be sharing some blog posts delving into what good Christian community should look like, and how we can go about finding Christian community. You can also check out this video exploring all things Christian community (& subscribe to my YouTube channel):
Why is Christian community important?
It is how we serve one another
As Christians, we are called to serve one another. To love one another, to help others, to use what we have to serve other people.
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”1 Peter 4:9-10
Community gives us the opportunity to serve one another, as we get to know other people and their needs. The more people we know, and know well enough to share our needs with, the people we will have the opportunity to help when they are in need.
Being in a community also often gives us the opportunity to serve other people together. In the youth group I belonged to a couple of years ago, we did a whole weekend of service projects – from helping local people, to weeding and tidying at the local primary school. I would not have had this opportunity to serve others, without being part of a Christian community.
Even if it’s not an organised group like our youth group, as Christians we should be pushing each other on towards good deeds, so I think serving others will naturally grow out of this relationship.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,”Hebrews 10:24
To encourage, and to be encouraged
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”Galatians 6:2
In a community, we have a team of people that encourage us. We can carry each other’s burdens & encourage each other throughout the difficult times we all face. This encouragement includes the times when we need to be encouraged in our faith, encouraged in our gifts and callings, encouraged in our successes. But also, when we need to be encouraged through the difficult times, encouraged in times of doubt, encouraged through trials & pain.
Being part of a community means that we don’t have to go through any of these things, whether joyful or painful, alone.
The body needs all of our gifts
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”Romans 12:4-8
Romans 12 beautifully illustrates the way that God has designed the global Church. We are all united as one body as we are united in our faith. And just like a human body, we have different roles to play in making that body work. I studied Human Biology at A-level and it really highlighted to me the intricate design involved in our bodies, with everything working together to keep us healthy and functioning. If one element of the body, even if it seems insignificant, isn’t working properly, it can have a huge knock-on effect on the whole body.
In the same way, if one member of the Church body isn’t there, the body won’t be able to fully function. There will be things that it cannot do. If you are choosing not to be a part of the Church body by rejecting Christian community, then you are holding back your gifts from that body. Because, as Romans 12 also tells us, we each have God-given gifts and are called to use them.
By being a part of Christian community, you bring your gifts (even if you don’t know what they are yet) to the body – and the body needs them!
To build your faith
One thing that modern technology has done (and that the Coronavirus pandemic has potentially made even worse) has been to give people the impression that they can be a Christian from a distance. We can attend church from our computer. We can learn from Christians on Instagram and YouTube.
Now, I don’t think these things are bad at all – I love to learn in these different ways, from people who live all over the world and have experienced so many different things. I even have my own YouTube channel where I hope to be able to share my advice and thoughts – you can find it here! My problem with these changes, however, is that people begin to think that these things are sufficient. That these online communities and teachers are enough. That they don’t need to find physical, local community as well.
But online Christian community, with all of its benefits, is simply not the same as meeting with other Christians in person. That Christian instagrammer does not know you and is not your pastor. They do not know you or your situations. That online community cannot come and support you practically when you need it, and they can only see what you put in front of them – they do not see the full, vulnerable you that a physically present community would come to know by doing life with you.
Christian community is so important for building your faith, and the book of James gives us some beautiful illustrations of what this looks like:
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”James 5:13-16 & 19-20
A Christian community is the people that you need that will pray for you, that will pray alongside you, that will rejoice with you, that will listen to your confessions with love, forgiveness and compassion. The people who will call you out when you are drawn to sin and pull you back. This is how our faith is built – by learning from one another and being discipled by other Christians.
To pass on faith
How did you learn about Jesus? How did you grow in your faith? Whilst maybe you simply read the Bible and read commentaries and books and such, the majority of us I imagine learnt about God and faith through our community. We learn through attending church and listening to the preacher unpacking God’s word, we learn through exploring our faith further in small groups, we learn from spending time with more mature, wise Christians who have gone before us.
This is also how we pass on our faith. Whilst in the past, faith may have been passed down generation to generation, grandparents to parents to children, it is much more likely now for whole families to have never experienced church or faith before. So, when the parents cannot pass on this faith to their children because they are learning themselves for the first time, how do we disciple the whole family? Through community.
The book of Titus is a wonderful book to explore to see wonderful models of more mature Christians passing on their faith, mentoring new Christians, helping them to grow in their faith.
In a community you will grow in your faith, and also have the opportunity to pass on your faith to others.
Why is Christian community important to you?
Other blog posts you might enjoy…
- How should Christians respond to self-love
- 9 things the church needs to talk about more
- What does the Bible say about friendship?