Lead Where You Are–in Authentic Community with the People of God
Lately, I have been meditating on this, How do we know we are actually growing spiritually and helping others to grow? What are the signs? In order to grow spiritually as leaders and as followers of Christ, we need an effective context for growth: authentic community. Among the key elements of the early Church that God sets before us in Acts 2 is this sense of strong relationship—or in other words, fellowship or authentic community. Acts 2:42–47 is a model of a healthy faith community, a context in which people of faith not only grow, but grow together.
One way to observe it is to consider the verbs: “learning” ...“broke bread ...together”...“prayed together” ... “met together” ... “shared everything they had” ... “give ... to whoever needed it”...“shared their food” ... “praising God” ... “being saved” ...
What was it that was first poured into them that helped to foster this strong community of faith? Here it is: “They spent their time learning from the apostles ...” (v. 42). This is the first characteristic Luke (the writer of Acts) cites. The primary practice of this vital church of Acts 2 was spending time in and around the Word of God.
Their practice was engaging God’s Word and the result was a sense of authentic community and connection. The people’s devotion to learning from the apostles drew them together in powerful and authentic unity; better said—community.
An authentic community shows seven vital signs of spiritual growth:
1. Vital Teaching (v. 42)
2. Vital Prayer (v. 42)
3. Vital Grace (v. 43)
4. Vital Giving (Stewardship vv. 44–45)
5. Vital Community (v. 46)
6. Vital Worship (v. 47)
7. Vital Witness (v. 47)
Community is the context of the church. Christians and church leaders need to read and engage their Bibles personally, but we also need to do so together with our faith community. In fact, a reflective reading of the Bible will remind us repeatedly that the biblical call is to authentic community. We need God. We need the Bible. And we need each other.
Thought of the Day
Scripture engagement strengthens a leader’s sense of authentic community and connection to the church.
Is my Bible reading and study an isolating experience or do I regularly engage in Bible study within community? How so? What steps could I take to strengthen this in my life?
Engaging the Word yourself—while doing today’s reading, consider the “seven vital signs of spiritual growth” above and ask yourself, Could these be seen in my personal life? Are they visible and apparent within the congregation I serve? What are our strongest points? What would make these even stronger? What are our weak areas? How could they be addressed? Reflect prayerfully and journal your observations.
Father, your Son Jesus offered a prayer to you on behalf of his followers, praying that we would all be one even as you and he are one. Please bring your church into complete unity as you desire and help me to not only live out my faith but to do so together with the family of God in this glorious community.