While in New York last month at a church planters’ round table I was challenged to think carefully about how we cultivate our church plant here in Fort Wayne. Our desire is to cultivate and multiply communities of worship, spiritual formation, and mission. I have become convinced that this cannot happen until we move beyond some of the barriers we typically construct in the church; individualism and consumerism, to name a couple.
Part of becoming a true community is beginning to share things that we normally do alone (or only with our immediate family). Sharing lies at the very heart of koinonia, the New Testament word we normally translate “fellowship.” This sharing extends to every part of our lives, and we desire to cultivate communities where friends learn to share their lives together: their stories, their faith, their joys and sorrows, their money and possessions, and their decisions.
The idea of sharing decisions with others in the Body of Christ is a fascinating one for me. We seem to be pre-programmed to want to make big decisions alone. For example, if we get a job offer in another city, most of the time we simply weigh the pros and cons, make a decision based on how much money we’ll make, how close to family we’ll be, what kind of lifestyle we’ll be able to afford, and then we announce the decision to our community.
But what if we brought these kinds of decisions to the church community, and not only asked people to pray for us, but also submitted to their questions and wisdom? What if we submitted to a circle of discernment where others in our community, who love us and want God’s best for us, could ask questions that cause us to reflect on things we might not otherwise think of when making the decision? What if we provided time and space for people to speak God’s heart to us when making big decisions? What if this was the process we went through when deciding what career to pursue, where to live, whether or not to go back to school, who to marry, whether or not to take the promotion…?
This would really be a pathway for spiritual formation, because oftentimes others see our true motives more clearly than we do. Decision-making could turn into fertile ground for the Spirit to do deep work in our hearts.
stuart hepler says
what you have penned here has been on my heart (and somewhat in my actions although i have found resistance in myself and from others) for sometime now. a central core of christ centered community is the giving away of one’s self. giving away of possessions, decisions, time, resources, talents and abilities, and so on. that is scary to do. but thankfully the street is not necessarily a one way street. we also can receive so much from those who we are in community with us that eventually the idea of giving and sacrificing does not seem that overwhelming or difficult to do.