Gospel Community

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by glfredrick, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. glfredrick

    glfredrick
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    In another thread a question came up regarding gospel community.

    Just wondering if anyone else considers the topic, and/or what you are actually doing to encourage or discourage it in your local church.

    This is NOT a thread about Calvinism/Arminianism, and I would appreciate it if the moderators would help us police it that way. Thanks!



    I'll start the discussion, which is redundant because I already have... :laugh:

    In any case, I see "gospel community" as one of the driving purposes of God's people gathered. Gospel community says YES to the question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" and it also says YES to the question of edification, love, instruction in righteousness, ministry, fellowship, and evangelism. It is, rather than the very American concept of radical individualism, instead a concept of unity in Christ, which is more in line with the practice in many foreign lands, where culture dictates that people are tribal or unified in purpose rather than individualistic and un-unified except in meeting place.
     
  2. HAMel

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    With all due respect to your topic, glfredrick, run out of money and discover where your "gospel community" is, in relation to you. Usually when one runs out of money they get a crash course in faith. Friends? What friends?

    Yes, a "gospel community" should be the driving purposes of God's people but I don't believe many of God's People can even begin to understand the challenge. It should not be but should a believer fall on hard times the tongues go to wagging and there is no recovery. It's like we are all independent agents. Swim at your own peril.
     
  3. Alive in Christ

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    And thats a crying, disgusting shame.
     
  4. glfredrick

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    What if it were different, and a true community existed where there was actually help?

    For the record, I've seen it work -- and it was the most beautiful thing apart from a loving human marriage and Jesus Christ, Himself, that I've ever seen. When people begin to invest themselves in true gospel-centered community as Christ commanded they begin to live out "where two or three are gathered in My name..." and "if you love me, feed my lambs" scenarios well indeed!
     
  5. gb93433

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    That is discipleship in the context of a community of believers as it was done in the early church.
     
  6. glfredrick

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    Yes, even though you have taken me to task about my discipleship efforts repeatedly -- just because they do not match your own efforts in style.
     
  7. HAMel

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    What if it were different, and a true community existed where there was actually help?

    That would be fabulous! Amen! Exactly what our Lord would endorse.

    Usually however, when someone falls on hard times no matter the reason the Pastor meets with them behind closed doors and then announces from the pulpit that Brother Ralph is being "tested" by the Lord and we should all Pray For Him.

    No, what Brother Ralph needs right this minute is $350.00 to pay his electric bill so his power doesn't get turned off. Or, Brother Ralph is on the verge of losing his auto insurance and if so, won't be able to drive to work.

    Of course, there are some who would milk the congregation and as such, caution should be taken but falling on hard times is like your feet. When your feet hurt you hurt all over. If one in the congregation hurts then the entire congregations should hurt.

    For sure, a "true community" should work together for the glory of our Lord.
     
  8. David Lamb

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    But shouldn't local churches "say YES to the question, 'Am I my brother's keeper?'" and also "say YES to the question of edification, love, instruction in righteousness, ministry, fellowship, and evangelism"?

    I hadn't heard of the phrase "gospel community" before, so I Googled it, and came across this site which defines "gospel" as "the good news concerning Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and salvation", and "community" as "a unified body of individuals". I am struggling to work out the difference between what a local church should be, and a body of individuals unified around the good news concerning Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and salvation. :confused:
     
  9. glfredrick

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    True gospel community precludes your example. It would not happen that way. True gospel community also means that the TRUTH of all of the members is already known, so IF there is a family who is struggling with their utility bills, the group has already acted -- for some time -- both to educate the brother and sister about Godly responsibility in managing finances, helped them procure a job if that is the problem, and yes, met the need already if that is what needs to be done. There is no "announcement" from the pulpit, nor any "vote" of the church to do the work of the gospel, which includes loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Rather, the work is simply done with a heart of love and respect, and whatever else needs to be done is done as well.

    Let me share two examples of how this works. Real life stuff, I'll leave names out. A family entered our congregation and was directed to a community group (the place where gospel community generally happens). They hop from one group to another looking for "quick fixes" to their problems, which stem from a decided lack of godly stewardship with what they have been given. They blame two of the CG for failure to meet their needs, end up petitioning the main pastor of the church for counseling, and are re-directed to another CG first, because that is where gospel community happens. The couple begin to realize that they will get nowhere by pushing the "needs" button with the church, and they enter a CG and begin to participate in the life of the church. Within the CG, they become known and with that their life issues also become known, for in CG, virtually all of life is explored, from marital relationships to financial to spiritual life. The group, sensing immediate need to ebb the tide, keep the lights turned on for the couple, then start working with them on a family budget where trips to Wal-Mart and McD's do not happen each payday, leaving other more serious obligations unmet. The group also assists the couple in locating alternative housing that halves their rent, and helps to get them moved, then also helps with used appliances and hookups so that they can be sufficient at home for lower cost than paying even to wash clothes, etc. By month three, the couple is now able to pay their own bills, and for the first time has actually contributed back to the CG, in that the wife of the couple enjoys baking and makes a marvelous cheese cake desert for the group. As love is shared, needs are met, and training in wise living is offered, it is determined that there is a further need in the life of the couple -- she is not saved -- and she has great animosity to her family for earlier abuse, etc. Counseling now begins, slowly at first, one-on-one, with the group leader and his wife doing that pastoral work. Then, the entire group is appraised of the scenario and prayer begins in earnest -- not judgment, but radical love and prayer -- real gospel concern. Biblical forgivness is taught, and she begins the process of reconciling with her family. A HUGE breakthrough happens when she is able to take the kids to grandma's house and not get into a battle. She begins to notice that the direction of the group is EVER more powerful and truthful than the life she experienced earlier and she renouces her former agnosticism and prays to accept Christ. She is baptized and so begins the process of another individual led to Christ, wooed by Christ, and bought by Christ, who now begins discipleship and a new life where she can reach others.

    Now, multiple that example by 2800 people and hundreds if groups, including some so radical that they MOVE to new homes just to reach a new neighborhood (which is happening virtually every day in this church!). The church continues to expand with an exponential growth because the POWER of the gospel lived out through community is SO MUCH GREATER than the weakness of a gospel shouted to people who have yet to understand why they need or want it. And, those outside the church think that they are somehow "cheating" when in fact, anything but exists. They are LIVING CHRIST and it works, just like the Bible says! Many others THINK they are living Christ, but they are essentially the clanging gongs and clashing cymbols that Paul mentioned in 1 Cor 13. Noise, some small action on Sunday mornings when people arrive at church with their "Sunday faces" painted on, but NO direct gospel community at work, for EVERYONE FEARS EVERYONE ELSE and what would happen if they BARED THEIR SOUL AND NEEDS TO THE CHURCH. Sad day for most...
     
  10. glfredrick

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    David, see my response above, and I have dozens more stories to tell.
     
  11. HAMel

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    glfredrick, your two examples are a great testimony.

    I am convinced our Lord wants the best for us..., that He is waiting to help with all our trials and tribulations..., if we only ask and then follow His lead. The Power and Glory of the Lord we all could realize each day if we only would instead of waiting until trouble raised it's ugly head.

    Heard the story once of the man being given a tour through heaven. As they walked into this great warehouse he found the shelves were lined with boxes and each box had his name on them. He inquired. His guide told him those were the Blessing the Lord had set aside for him..., should he have ever asked.

    It does my heart good to read real life experiences such as you described. Thanks.
     
  12. glfredrick

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    HAMel, it takes more than wishful thinking to actually experience true gospel community. It takes work in faith by those who are already regenerate and living in/with/for Christ to truly be their brother's keeper and to see the needs of others as above one's own, lifting, loving, and edifying!

    You can, of course, start gospel community in your own congregation. Just do it. It will take time, I know, I'm in the process of converting a typical Baptist church to a new paradigm, but once it catches on it is unstoppable, for it IS God's plan and what we are now doing is not.

    Note that gospel community does not set aside the need to be the church gathered (with all that entails, including the observance of the ordinances), nor does it set aside the need to preach the Word, rightly divided. All of that happens. But oh how it happens when testimony after testimony of God truly changing lives drives the energy of the congregation.

    Oh, and for the record, the congregation where this happens is fully immersed in the Doctrines of Grace. They DEPEND on God to act and move!
     
  13. HAMel

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    glfredrick, I'm impressed with your efforts here. I also like the use of your word "paradigm". No, this does not refer to a "pair of dimes" but an awakening as to how so many people are doing what they do because they fell into a rut and never noticed it and subsequently refuse to change. I had a Great Aunt that cooked on a wood stove. My wife cooks on LP Gas. Usually, we only accept changes as a convenience.

    Some on this forum have taken exception to much of what I post and my subsequent attitude. Well, so be it. I can imagine that at least 99 percent of everyone on here suffers just as I do.

    Example, my son has been married twice and now living with another. My daughter had four out of wedlock, then married, divorced and now living with her boyfriend. Our third daughter married and it lasted a year. We raised the grand kids for ten years. Once into public school they all went nuts and went in four different directions. All of this is NOT because they were not raised under the guidance and teachings of a church. We always attended church.

    It happened because Satan is working overtime. Churches are NOT meeting the needs. The message will never change but the delivery must change. We can no long cook on a wood stove.

    Now, am I ashamed to admit to the world about my family, as I did above? Bottom line is..., it's the truth. What's that line now about the truth? Something about knowing the truth and the truth will set you free? Yeah, that's it.

    The other bottom line is that all of us who post on this forum have all been devastated at one time or another but really don't want to admit it. Accordingly, gossip will not fill the void nor mend the broken hearts while churches continue with the same "paradigm" of empty heads filled with stuffed shirts.

    Good for you. Keep up the good work.
     
  14. gb93433

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    They do match my own efforts as they have been for years.

    I am a team builder. That is my expertise. In teams everyone is part of a small community that is a part of a large community.

    Teams start with one person and a vision. The church started with one person.
     
  15. saturneptune

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    I am just curious, when pastoring a church, do you practice open or closed communion?
     
  16. matt wade

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    Your kids and grandkids aren't having problems because of an issue at the church. Their issue lies closer to home.
     
  17. glfredrick

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    You directed the question to GB, but I'll respond from my congregation. I practice "close" communion. Not open -- one must be born-again and an immersed believer -- nor closed -- it is the Lord's Table, not mine or my church's table -- but close, where I make it clear that the Lord's Table is for believers who are of like faith and practice, and who have been baptized as believers by immersion.

    I have no way to police the Table, and so I do not. If someone takes the table in an unworthy manner it is not on me or the church to remedy that issue -- that is God's domain and I'll not usurp His authority.

    Generally my practice is to invite the non-believers or those nominally religious who may not have a born-again experience to "Take Christ" while the church takes His Table in rememberence of what He has done for us. Next week, should you take Christ, you can then participate in the rememberance of the Lord with us!"
     
  18. HAMel

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    Your kids and grandkids aren't having problems because of an issue at the church. Their issue lies closer to home.

    ...it all went over your head like a jet at Mach 2 speed, huh?

    Yep, for sure it all is the result of home life. Yes indeed. Thank you Mr. Stuff Shirt. May your god continue to bless you.
     
  19. gb93433

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    Open to all who would consider themselves followers of Jesus not living in habitual sin. I always let the people know what that means beforehand.
     
  20. gb93433

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    My mother in law came for a visit one time where we were living and the pastor said that all could partake who believed in Jesus and were baptized. She considered herself as one who believed in Jesus and was sprinkled as a kid. We knew she was not a believer. A few years later she called and said she became a believer and decided to follow Jesus. We saw a definite difference.
     

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