By: Leo Rudegeair
"And they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayer…And all who believed were together and held all things in common; …." (Acts 2:42-47)
This was the response of those who heard Peter’s preaching at Pentecost. They recognized that to survive in the hostile culture of their day, they needed to support one another.
Many people respond to that call to live in community even today. Some are called to live in religious communities, who take a vow of poverty and share all things in common. Some are called to live with intentional communities, such as the Bruderhof, a worldwide, present-day Christian community established in 1920 that shares all things in common. And then there are less formal, less structured communities of believers.
When I was baptized in the Spirit some 40 years ago, during a course similar to Discovering Christ, my response and that of many friends was similar. We wanted to live life together. We recognized the importance of relationships with other Christians if we wanted to grow in our faith and become disciples. We knew that we’d be easy prey for the evil one if we tried to go it alone.
Jesus never called us to be "Lone Ranger" Christians. He called us together as the Body of Christ.
My friends and I gave some serious thought to sharing all things in common, but decided we were not called to such a radical community. Instead, we formed ‘households’ composed of three or four families. We met regularly on Sundays to pray together, share a meal, have some discussion, and play games. The adults felt the support of brothers and sisters in the Lord and our children experienced our faith was more than just going to church on Sunday.
As seasons of life changed, our need for support changed. We established men’s groups and women’s groups. We also formed couple’s groups to help us deepen our relationships as spouses and parents. We prayed together, studied scripture together, and shared our lives together. We called these sharing groups Small Christian Communities (SCC).
There were times in my life when I was without an SCC, but not for very long. I need the relationship and challenge of other brothers and sisters in the Lord to live the Gospel. One of the benefits of a SCC is the commitment we make to one another, the support we promise, and the permission we give to each other to hold us accountable to living that commitment. It's a blessing.
Are you part of a community that prays together, studies scripture, and provides opportunities for growth and accountability? If you are, thank God for that gift and pray for ways to draw others into community. If not, ask the Holy Spirit to bring people together of like mind to build this type of small Christian community in your life.
If you want to live your life for Jesus Christ, ask the Holy Spirit to provide the supportive Christian community you need!