An old pharmacy “luncheonette” was my stop the other day driving back from a conference. It’s off the beaten path in Clayton, and beyond notice of tourist just two blocks over. While I was there, I watched, and listened. Memories flooded my mind from growing up near there. “Community” was happening right in front of me, and it was refreshing.
Imagine the scene…servers greeting folks by name, terms like “Dear” and “Hun” used often, and a GREAT burger! It wasn’t a strategy; just their normal life. It’s who they are, and had the tourist known, they would have flooded in there. With the conference theme “Building Great Groups for Great Growth” fresh on my mind, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels.
We were challenged to seek authentic community, and reach people. It sounds like elusive secrets, but it’s really not complicated. The formula is already available in scripture. Jesus modeled it perfectly, and charges us to do the same. Notice the common themes from the speakers:
Alan Taylor, Minister of Education,First Baptist Church,Woodstock, GA drew attention to this:
“…Jesus went about teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing…” Matt. 4:23 – The strategy Jesus used throughout was:
- Reaching People
- Teaching People
- Ministering to People
Bill Donahue of The LeaderSync Group showed Jesus leading groups into spiritual community by:
- Creating Moments (washing the disciples feet – John 13)
- Seizing Moments (turning Peter’s comments into a lesson – John 13:38)
- Marking Moments (Instituting the Lord’s Supper – Matt. 26)
Dennis Pethers of Viz-A-Viz Ministries, Essex, UK shared about reaching people far from God, like those in England. He taught that Jesus was “among them & available”, based on John 14:1-26 where Jesus spoke and listened.
At the end of the day I came back with a fresh vigor to look at our Lord’s example, and it sounds familiar. Recently, the little orange book, Radical by David Platt has convicted me lately to do the same. He points me back to scripture for the definition of my mission. That’s tough because my flesh resists, but I can’t argue with it. Authentic Christian Community involves looking to the one who designed it, Christ.
What about the diner? Well, I drove back down to the main drag, and saw the tourists…lots of them in “chain” restaurants. They were completely unaware they missed out on a GREAT burger served up with, “There you go Hun.” I suspect if someone had informed them afterwards, they would be very disappointed. So as we build authentic community, we need to make the effort to reach the “tourists”, so they too can experience Christ’s wonderful riches…and that sounds like Kingdom work to me.