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Discipleship

Other-Oriented Community

At Reservoir Church, the church I help lead in Escondido, we have been working through our Leadership Track as a cohort of elders and happen to be currently setting out a vision for the church as guided by the book Creative Minority. It is a short little book packed full with deep wisdom on what it could mean for the church to live for renewal of the people around it. Written by Jon Tyson and Heather Grizzle it has served as a pamphlet for me to give out anytime someone asks what our vision is for the church.

Today I was struck by this quote in the chapter on covenantal community: “We live in a relational moment where the needs of the individual have completely eclipsed the concerns of a larger community. The choice architecture of our entire lives exists to facilitate individualism and rather than articulating an alternative vision, the church has embraced this value. We speak primarily of a “personal relationship with God” as the fundamental goal of faith. There is nothing wrong with personal faith, but the love that Jesus speaks of is fundamentally other-oriented and generally communal. If the goal of church is self, we will not fulfill Jesus’ command that we be known as a people of love.”

There is a lot here. Of course this was written years ago but is now a timely reminder as we are asked more and more to perceive the needs of our neighbors and serve them. But this is beyond a personal expression of sacrifice. It is for the community of believers.

This is where the covenant community of the church shines before a watching world. Accountable to each other, invested in one another, and sticking together even if things get hard. This is then the tapestry that tells the story of the gospel at work in the lives believers as a family.

Each day we face the choice to find something more fitting of our preference and perspective but if we jump we miss the purpose we are brought together for, to join Jesus in his renewing of the world. As the church gears up to gather and get back to normal, or as I prefer thinking, move forward to what’s next, there will be plenty of opportunities for local iterations of the church to live out covenant community, to serve together, to sacrifice for others together, to proclaim a better vision for existence together. But it must be together.

Rescued by Jesus and formed into a family for the renewal of others and all things. Jesus gives us the power for it by his Spirit and the motivation for it as recipients of his grace. How will you endeavor to more thoroughly embrace your covenant community and what will motivate you to set aside self in the process?