Unpacking our Vision
Part 4: Forming Community
“Offering a variety of spaces which are welcoming and inclusive for people from all walks of life. Being a place of safety and security to all, where pastoral care is available and all are valued. A growing community where all can participate, find belonging, and friendships can be nurtured.”
Made for Relationship
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone;
I will make him a helper as his partner.’” Genesis 2:18
From the beginning of humankind, we have been made to live in relationship.
Relationship with God.
Relationship with ourselves.
Relationship with others.
In part 1 of this series, we thought about our journey with a God who is for us, and we participate in that journey as a community – the community of God’s people. As we explored in part 2, we celebrate faith as both individuals, and as Christian community together. And in part 3 we noted how we live out our faith and deepen our discipleship as part of a community of disciples learning together.
Which leads us nicely into our final section. Where we recognise the fact God made humankind to live in relationship, and form God-shaped community.
Learning from the community of God
All of scripture echoes with this pursuit of a journey of relationship. Scripture tells of the highs and lows of God’s people, of individuals and communities trying to work out what it means to live as God’s community – in times of conflict, of exile, of famine and of persecution.
As Christian people, as the ongoing community of God, we study scripture as a means by which to learn from their experiences, and to learn from God and model what we learn in our living and our relationships.
Participating with God
God lives in community.
God is Father, Son and Spirit.
God walked the earth (Genesis 3:8).
God lived among us (John 1:14).
God remains with us (Matt 28:20).
To have a relationship with God is to participate in the dance of the community of the trinity.
To embrace the known and unknown,
understood and not-understood about God.
To relate to God is to participate in what God is doing in us and among us.
Forming an alternative Community
“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” Acts 2:44-45
Formation of community happens all around us. Geography, hobbies and interests, friendship groups, work and leisure all contribute to many different forms and type of community that exist in pour lives.
Being Christian community is by nature, to be distinctive. Set apart of God. God-shaped community. Sometimes being Christian community requires us to swim against the tide, to be radically different.
The early church shared together in ways that were unexpected, and as such draw attention to themselves, and brought people into relationship with the community, and with God.
For example, to live our lives as community striving for peace, reconciliation and inclusion of all is a countercultural attitude in a time where our country is in many ways divide against itself. To practice grace and forgiveness alongside seeking justice is often a surprising act in a situation of deep hurt and brokenness. To live generously and serve without expecting anything back in return is incredibly unexpected in capitalist society.
But that’s what we are. When we share communion all who seek and love God are invited to the table where there are no barriers. When we worship we raise our voices together as one and make a sweet sound to God. When we meet around the table for coffee, food or conversation through the week we welcome without judgement or expectation. All are welcome for who they are, as they are.
Forming a Community of Welcome & Care
We’ve re-committed ourselves to being Christian community here in Bognor Regis.
A place where we form community that welcomes and values diversity and difference, and where our common life in God together is shared.
We’ve committed ourselves to being a place of safety and security.
That means that in our worship, our welcome, our activities, our pastoral care, we safeguard each other to the best of our abilities, affirm and enable people to find welcome, healing and wholeness among us. A place of sanctuary in a difficult world.
But more than that, as a community of God we point to the greatest safety and security of all – the saving love of God.
We’ve committed to be a growing community where all can participate and belong.
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
That means we celebrate our diversity and difference in the way we live and serve together. Using the varied and vibrant range of passions, gifts and skills we have to form and participate within the community of God.
We committed to being a place of friendship and nurture
“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” John 15:15
Friendships are deeply important. Jesus called his followers friends, and he’s our friend too.
Sometimes our fast paced, productivity focused society overlooks the importance of friendship. A time of being with and alongside others. Those similar to us, those different from us. Valuing each other by simply being together.
As we live and serve together,
discerning our future,
participating in God,
may we be drawn together in love,
strengthen in purpose,
empower by the presence of God
to be the God-shaped community calls us to be.
Questions for reflection and discussion
Have you found this article helpful?
What would you add if you were to talk about Forming Community?
What do you disagree with? Let’s get talking!
Below are some questions to get us thinking, praying and talking together!
- How do you identify as part of a community? and as part of BRMC?
- What gifts and skills do you bring to the community?
- How do you feel our communtiy ‘swims against the tide’?
- What makes you feel welcome and included?
- How would you describe your relationship with God to someone else?