The Power of Christian Community
John 17:20-23- Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer
Jesus prays for the unity of those who believe in him
There is a church in Austin, Texas which has two messages—“Come as you are” and “But don’t stay as you are”. These two messages alone have led this church to discover the power of Christian community in reaching out to others who don’t know Jesus. Their bulletin has the following message: …..Church is a COME AS YOU ARE kind of church- a community of imperfect people doing life together, becoming allt hat God create us to be. We don’t care who you voted for, what your tax bracket may be, or what your zip code is. Whether you’ve had a relationship with God your whole life or you’re not even sure He exists, we’re glad to meet you where you are. Bring your questions, doubts, fears and hurts – no need to leave anything at the door.
We want to help you connect with others who live near you, share your interests or happen to be in a similar life stage, largely because we encourage you to come as you are, BUT DON’T STAY AS YOU ARE. By getting to know others who are also seeking to know God, you can learn to experience life to the fullest, be more of who God created you to be and learn to love God and others more deeply. We believe lasting life change happens in community with others. Together. Not perfectly, but intentionally.
This church was very small at first—but now reaches 4000 people per week. What does this say about their message—come as you are, but don’t stay as you are? The church is willing to help you live no matter where you come from but the direction you go is with a community that cares for you.
Many mainline churches today are having difficulty because they want people to commit to their faith practises right away. Yet the reality is that people are seeking community, a support system to help them through the various stages of life and to know people as they are- imperfect yet caring; sinners who repent and try again, and loving others after knowing that they can and do love.
What does “but don’t stay as you are” mean in light of reaching out to others and welcoming others to worship and to community? Is there an implied message that you will be changed? What does this mean for you?
Have you been asked to “come as you are” to a party? How did this make you feel? Under dressed/ overwhelmed or somewhere in between. Sometimes we feel intimidated by who we are when we share our sins and faults. This church in Texas, disregards this but also puts into their message that you are going to be changed if you come to their church. Is this a hope and expectation for you? That is, the Spirit of God will change you? Or are you ok just as you are?
God you call us to be in community with others. Enable us to belong and begin a strong relationship with you wherever we go. Change our hearts and change our lives in faith and with hope. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.