Summary: Today’s question: what is the key element to fulfilling our mission? What is the most important thing we need in order to be fruit and produce fruit?

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This week: Hurricane Katrina – an example of how something can kill a community/threaten to wipe out a community.

Last week: Our mission is to grow fruitful followers of Jesus Christ. We are to be fruit and produce fruit.

Today’s question: what is the key element to fulfilling our mission? What is the most important thing we need in order to be fruit and produce fruit?

• Better facilities?

• Better/more staff?

• More exciting/attractive programs?

• More gifted/skilled people?

• More financial resources?

None of those are it. There is something else that is absolutely key, essential, fundamental to you and I being who God wants us to be and doing what God wants us to do. Without this key, we are faced with mission impossible. With this key, we face mission possible. Today we will discover what it is. And we will discover both what creates and what kills this essential aspect of our mission.

So, what is this key, crucial, essential element? The thing we can’t succeed without? It’s Community. Authentic, biblical community makes our mission possible.

I. Real Community is essential to our mission

A. Community defined

What is community? Its sort of a buzzword in our society right now. We use the word to describe a variety of things: A community bank. A community center. An online community. Sometimes it just refers to a place we live, the “community” we live in. Let’s look a three Scriptures that help us both understand what community is and why it is so important. We will see three different authors describe community in three different ways. Turn with me first to Hebrews 10:24-25.

Did you notice how the author of Hebrews stresses the need for Christians to meet together? This is very strong, direct encouragement. In these two verses he highlights two important aspects of community: meeting together and helping one another. We are to spur and encourage one another. Community always involves some form of meeting, or being together. But it is always meeting or being together with a purpose: here that purpose is to spur one another on and to encourage one another. Community involves being involved with other believers with the point of helping them live out the Christian life.

Now turn to 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. This is Paul writing. He describes Christians as a body – all connected. Notice what he goes on to say about the individual parts of the body as I read 1 Corinthians 12:14-20. His point is that every part of the body is different, but plays a vital role in the functioning of the body. This is an important aspect of community. First of all, since we are connected like a body, we need to function together; that’s community. Secondly, community involves each individual being valued for who they are, and being allowed to play their God-designed role. Community exists when members of the community all contribute their part to the working of the whole. Just being together isn’t enough.

Now turn to John 15:9-13. We looked at this passage last week. Here Jesus charges his followers with loving one another deeply. Community involves a group of people bound together by love.

Community is believers being together to help one another live the Christian life, allowing everyone to play a meaningful role, and relating to one another with love. These are key things that must exist for God’s mission – our mission – to succeed. Community. You gotta have it.

B. Community can be difficult

The thing about real community is that it isn’t automatic. It doesn’t just happen. You can’t just throw people together and have ‘instant community.’ Just showing up at church doesn’t guarantee you will experience community. Joining a small group doesn’t always do it either. I have been in small groups that have provided the most powerful examples of community, and I have been in groups that have had no community whatsoever. We’re good at getting together, but we don’t always have to heart or the courage to ‘spur one another on.’ We don’t always value everyone and don’t always let them play their role. And we certainly don’t always relate to one another in love. That’s why community can be difficult.

TRANS.: So, what creates community? How can we experience greater levels of community and see greater things occur for the glory of God? This morning I want to show you 3 things that create community. 3 conditions that foster real community. But to understand them, we will have to also explore the 3 enemies of community, the 3 things that kill real community. Let’s take a look at the first community killer. [show clip of opening scene from Antz]

A. Individualism kills community

That’s a funny scene. But it represents a way of thinking that dominates our culture: Individualism. Z echoes the angst of many people today: “What about my needs?” We all want to be more than just a number, we all want to be recognized as individuals, but in our culture this goes beyond basic recognition of our individual dignity and uniqueness. Individualism elevates the individual above everything else. We pursue our own desires and goals above everyone else’s, and rarely think about what is best for a group. We look out for number one.

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