Gospel Community, Session 1

Gospel Community, Session 1
by David McConnell & Chase Thompson

Gospel Community: What we are doing in 10 easy steps. (Chase’s Notes) 

1. Eliminating Wednesday night meetings at the Agape building.

2. Moving the people of God, who carry the Gospel of Jesus, away from the building and into the community.

3. Opening a few (probably 5 to start) of our homes to host gatherings several times a month.

4. Calling some of our people to take part in leading these Gospel communities according to their gifts. Some will teach. Some will shepherd. Some will practice hospitality. Some will minister to each other through prayer, words of wisdom, healing, worship, etc.

5. Each Gospel Community will initially have 3-6 of these leader types, and each group will begin with somewhere between 6-10 people, leaving room to grow.

A. With each GC having 3-6 leader types, the doors to ministry in the Body SPRING open. Now a small handful of people do ministry. In the coming days, many, many more will be ministering. A Royal Priesthood!

6. The primary focus of the GC’s will be discipleship, but keep in mind that discipleship means much more than merely doing Bible study. It means:

A. Growing in our relationship with God

B. Going deeper together in God’s Word

C. Fellowshipping together through meals, sharing life, jokes, interests, etc. Deep conversations AND shallow ones.

D. Teaching, encouraging, rebuking, and exhorting each other, in a loving manner, as needed.

E. Ministering to each other, and to our communities through our spiritual gifts.

F. Intentionally making disciples through what is usually called evangelism – Gospeling. In reality, evangelism is really making disciples. We don’t just hear the Gospel of Jesus, get saved, and then go on to better things – we live and are sustained by the Gospel. Similarly, we don’t just proclaim the Gospel to a bunch of people, see them get saved, and then go on about our business. The Great Commission says that we are to proclaim the Gospel and ALL Jesus taught us.

G. Missionally serving our community (and distant places) through sacrificial giving AND our time/gifts/presence.

7. Meet for planned meetings AND fellowship/fun gatherings – Like cookouts, swim parties, going out to eat, etc. A Gospel Community is more than just a small group that you go study the Bible with. It is a group that you do life in Jesus together with. Whether that means going to a ball game, or together going and visiting people in the hospital.

8. Leadership/Minister Multiplication. Each group will be looking to recognize and develop leaders for various ministries, including the leadership of new groups. Whereas each group will start out with several leaders/ministers – those leaders/ministers will be looking to recognize, and then help train/enhance the upcoming leaders and ministers in their groups to prepare them for new roles.

9. Group Multiplication The groups themselves will start at a small number – between 6 and 10. An ideal group size is around 12-15. Much more than that, and it becomes too large. Groups should multiply when they begin to consistently reach more than 15 people. Multiplication should not be looked at as separation, but as an opportunity for more and more people to “play ball” and make disciples. Groups that multiply should still be close to each other, and plan gatherings together.

10. We will be going deeper…and righter.  What I mean by this poor use of grammar, is that we will be going beyond mere surface relationships often found in churches or believers.

These surface relationships are often characterized by:

1. Infrequent time spent together outside the church meeting.
2. Infrequent conversations about core things that are close to each other.
3. Hiding our true feelings, fears and failings.

I don’t mean by this that we will have a programmed time of touchy feely nonsense. I mean that, as we meet together in communities that orbit around Jesus and His Gospel, that we will naturally go deeper with each other, and in doing so – WE WILL OVERCOME.

In Church – we are quick to admit to being sinners, but tremble at getting close to our specific sins. We do this out of pride AND fear. We fear that we will not have fellow believers that will love us enough to accept the specific sins in our lives. So we are hiders!

Next 7 topics: (not in order):

1. Evangelism
2. Spirituality and Accountability
3. Discipleship
4. Youth and Children
5. Shepherding/Pastoring
6. Mission/Missions
7. FAQ – Question and Answer and Discussion.

David’s Notes: 

Gospel Community Intro: Week 1 July 20th

We want to see Agape become a true Gospel Community, that all of us experience. We talked about this in Jan as part of our vision for 2011.  Truth is some Christians will never experience true community:

  • My Dad. Professed Christian. Attended church rarely. No community. Easy to see.
  • RegularChurchAttendees. May come for dynamic preaching. Worship. Involved Sun and Wed. Help with Events. Never hit on community.
  • Agape. A Family. Love Each Other. Take care of each other in Crisis. Gather outside of church mtgs. Yet reality is it is possible to do that and never hit on true community.

So WHY do we want to see this happen? Part of it is to answer some of the areas in this fellowship that we need to grow in. That as we grow in Gospel Community, we will grow in these areas.

1)      We need to grow in Fellowship. Koinonia. Sharing of Life.

  1. True fellowship is not where we connect based on life similarities.

                                                              i.      People who have been here and have not connected saying, ‘I don’t fit in because I don’t have kids, or I don’t home school, or I don’t like Ballet like Chase does…”

ii.      BUT True Fellowship is built on Jesus. He is the common denominator among uncommon people. John 17:21 ‘I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you…’ Here is Jesus’ goal for Agape: That we be as close, as bonded together as Jesus and the Father were bonded together.  That the glue that holds us together is not economic, social, cultural or preferences.  EVEN AGE. Where we separate students and adults. But the Spirit that makes Jesus and God one would bind us as one.

iii.      Early Church hit on this. Acts 4:32. All the believers were united in heart and mind. AND they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. So, early church hit upon this fellowship we are talking about, bonded together by Jesus. And the result was, they wanted to SHARE life together.

2)      We need to grow in reaching the isolated around us. Outreach.

  1. Go back to John 17:21 ‘I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.’  What was part of Jesus goal for us being one? The world around us would believe the gospel. True Christian community is the best apologetic for the gospel there is. People can argue with most points of our faith. They cannot argue when they see us loving each other as Christ as loved us.
  2. The typical way churches try to reach people, is by inviting them to the building. To a place and time. And the churches that are the best at that are the ones that have the best amenities: The best music, best technology, nicest bathrooms, air that works, etc..  But the Jesus way was to reach people, BY people. Where our greatest amenity is relationships. Where we are exposing people to true Christian community, and they are drawn in by it.

i.      I think aboutSharon. Single mom came to ourFamily small group

ii.      Brenda, little lady from Tarrant.

                                                          iii.      We haven’t connected with everyone we brought in the building.

  1. c.       How do we reach Pinson, Locust Fork, Morris, Kimberly, Tarrant, Center point, Trussville, Clay, Remlap? I promise you it won’t be by asking people to come here and showing them our bathrooms.

3)      We need to grow in Discipleship

  1. Lets go back to John 17. Now22-23 in MSG. ‘the same glory you gave me, I gave them, So they’ll be as unified and together as we are – I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me…’
  2. So Jesus goal: as we grow closer to each other, we mature in our faith growing closer to God as well. Discipleship
  3. We need an effective strategy to make disciples of the lost we reach. And again, it is not a program no more than it is a building. It is the people of God, living life together and teaching each other. The mature teaching and mentoring the immature.

i.      I grew a lot in my discipleship listening to Sunday morning msgs. I grew the most when the guy preaching those messages started taking me to lunch every week and forming a mentoring relationship with me.

So back to where we were, we want to see Agape become a community that is Gospel Centered. Some have asked why call it this? Isn’t it just a small group. NO Sam its not.

Why Gospel?

To be Gospel centered means we live the gospel out and we proclaim the gospel as we go.

  • Emerging church / sometimes a more liberal brand of Christianity has shown to be very good at Acts of service, loving each other and community. But have a reputation for being soft on the truth.They tend to put relationships at the center of their community. But according to Jesus, the word must be center.
    • John 8:31 Jesus said…IF you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.How do you know you are a disciple? You abide in the word. How do we know we are a church of disciples: IF we abide in the word.
      • This is not always easy. 2 Timothy 3 says the word is useful for teaching and training and equipping us for service (all encouraging) but it is also needed for correction and rebuke. So if we live out the word here, sometimes that requires us to do hard (but good) things. Sometimes we are teaching and equipping each other, sometimes rebuking, in LOVE according to the WORD.
      • It is good, because Ephesians 2:22 says In Him (Jesus) you are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. So word centered churches, made up of disciples abiding in the word of Jesus, will also be Spirit Centered churches. The Spirit dwells in a community formed by the word.
      • Early church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship (Word Centered / Gospel Centered). Now look at v. 43 AND awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done (Spirit is dwelling and moving) and then v. 47 AND the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
        • When we live out the gospel as a community, and proclaim the gospel as a community, the gospel spreads. Acts 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly…
        • WHY GOSPEL CENTERED? Because that is the church the Spirit moves on and through and that is the church that will see people saved.

Why Community?

  • While the emergent’s may be strong on community and soft on truth, the Evangelical / Traditional church is often strong on the word (preaching it no living it) and bad at community.
    • Sometimes you just have a fellowship that is not loving, legalistic.
    • Sometimes we have fellowships that love, but only with certain groups of people. Cliquish. ALLWHITECHURCH. OrALLUPPERCLASSCHURCH.
    • Sometimes community is broken because it is built on those preferences we talked about earlier. Good programs, but community is stagnant.
  • Titus 2:14 ‘Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and PURIFY FOR HIMSEF A PEOPLE for His own possession’.
    • We don’t get saved and choose to join a church, like a club. He died do when we are saved we become part of the people he died for.
    • God is a God in community. Genesis 1:26, ‘Let us make man in OUR image’. From the earliest moments of creation we see this picture of Father, Son and Spirit in community together. And the goal is that we – the people of God – would follow in their steps in community with each other.
    • This is so important, Jesus pointed out that for some of us we would need to leave our biological communities and families – give them up – in order to be apart of this community.
  • So church is not something you are a member of, a club. Where it is 1 more thing you have to juggle along with work, school, recreation…
  • Rather: it is who we are. Our identity. We are saved by Christ and placed into His church.
    • We belong to God.
    • We belong to each other.
    • We are responsible for each other.
    • We are responsible to each other.
    • We get to a place where we are sharing life. And even our decisions are made with the thought: how will this impact the church if I do this?
    • So wherever we go, we carry this identity with us
  • Jesus called us into community when we are saved AND He gives this community a mission.
    • Being a part of this community is not optional or additional. It is who we are.
    • And we want to get to this place of sharing life together as 1 heart and mind.
      • Growing closer together in fellowship
      • Growing closer to God in discipleship
      • Creating something that people want to be a part of.
  • This will be messy. It’s not a program. Life is complicated.
    • So if we share life, it will be complicated.
    • You meet at the church, you program it all out. Childcare, set times to meet. It is somewhat easy. But this is life, sharing life is more difficult. BUT IT IS SO MUCH BETTER to be WHO God called us to be. So Chase will share with us WHAT we will be doing to begin to see Gospel Community taking place at Agape.

1 Timothy 6:17-21 “People of Generosity”

People of Generosity
1 Timothy 6:17-21
by David McConnell

“17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 20 Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.”
1 Timothy 6:17-21

  • God does not call all of His people to material prosperity.
  • God does not call all of His people to material poverty.
  • God does call all of His people to sacrificial generosity.

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints — and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us… But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you see that you excel in this act of grace also. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich…”
2 Corinthians 8

A Call to Sacrificial Generosity…

  • Motivated by abundant joy.
    • Following Jesus
    • Reflecting Grace
    • Showing genuine love

“…Your zeal has stirred up most of them… The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ…”
2 Corinthians 9

  • Displaying the Gospel
    • Recognizing our stewardship not our ownership
      • The needs of the poor are met
      • God is praised
      • Others are moved to action
      • Your heart will be steady in times of insecurity

Life Truth: That we will guard our treasure is not a question. The real subject that must be addressed is who or what do we treasure.

“The great challenge of life is to use every treasured thing in the world in a way that shows God is treasured more.” – John Piper

1 Timothy 6:1-10 “People of Distinction”

People of Distinction
1 Timothy 6:1-10
by David McConnell

Life Truth: The gospel leads to practical, visible changes in the lives of those who believe (adhere to) it.

  • There is no legitimate separation in scripture between belief and behavior.
    • The people of God are not called to “bumper sticker” Christianity.
    • There is a legitimate separation in scripture between the Godly and the ungodly.
      • The people of God are called to lives of distinction.

The distinction of God’s people should be seen in…

  • Their response to difficult times.
    • Not focused on the fairness of the situation but on their behavior in the situation.
    • A key tenet of the Gospel: “It’s not all about me.”
      • 2 primary concerns: The glory of God and the good of others.
      • Learning to live a life of patient expectation.
  • How they build community.
    • Agreement not controversy
    • Blessing not dissension
    • Honor not slander
    • Trust not suspicions
    • Unity not friction
      • This is not an unreachable ideal, but the very will of God for His people.
        • Jesus as the common bond among uncommon people.
  • The perspective on material possessions.
    • Reject any gospel that teaches Jesus as a means to a material end.
      • Someone who is not content with ‘just enough’ will never be generous in their abundance.
      • Ruin and Destruction follow those who choose to feed their flesh.
      • Infinite treasures await those whose souls feast on the glory of God.

Life Truth: Becoming a man or woman of distinction begins with: Reading, Reflecting, Repentance, and Realization.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 “Elders”

1 Timothy 3:1-7 “Elders”
by David McConnell

Why does it matter how we are structured at Agape?

Life Truth: From God’s character flows purposes; From God’s purposes flow God’s blessings.

  • God is a God of glory.
    • He purposes that His glory be made known to all nations through His people doing His work His way. (Numbers 20)
      • When God is most glorified in His church, then His church will be the most blessed by Him.
  • God is a God of order. (1 Corinthians 14)
    • He purposes order for His people based on His wisdom not our importance.
      • God’s order in His church brings God’s spiritual protection to His church. (Acts 20)
  • God is a God of love.
    • He purposes that everyone would experience His love through His people.
      • Elders are a conduit of the love of Jesus to His church. (1 Peter 5)

How do we move forward?

  • With a resolved vision. (1 Corinthians 14)
    • God let me see biblically, not culturally, traditionally, or preferntially.
  • With a resolved mind.
    • God let us see trustworthy leaders among us.
      • Examine the fruit of their lives. (Matthew 7:16-20)
      • Examine who their lives point toward. (John 7:18)
      • Examine their faith. Is it worth emulating? (Hebrews 13:7)
  • With a resolved heart.
    • God let this be my life’s constant question: Will this please the Lord?

1 Timothy 1:17-20 “Saved for Battle”

1 Timothy 1:17-20 “Saved for Battle”
by David McConnell

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

Life Truth: The grace of God redefines rescue. It is not just removing someone from dire circumstances, but also placing them into greater life.

A true experience of God’s grace will lead us into…

  • Worship
    • The King of Ages (Psalm 10:16)
    • The Immortal One (Psalm 102)
    • The Only God (Psalm 103)
  • Ministry and Influence
  • Battle

“Christians must emphatically understand, the world around us is in conflict with the word within us.” A.W. Tozer

  • Perseverance leads to peace
  • Wavering leads to loss
    • Loss of sound doctrine
    • Loss of influence
    • Loss of community

“If you say ‘my bad habit only hurts myself’, then you are saying ‘the people God created me to serve to not matter.'” John Piper

Life Truth: We strive together to fight the good fight for the Glory of Christ, for the benefit of our fellowship, and for the sake of our own lives.

VISION 2011, Part II

VISION 2011, Part II
by David McConnell
Sunday, January 9, 2011

It is by grace we are here.
It is by grace that we go.

  • Our problem is not that our purpose is too small but that our view of our purpose is too small.

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”
– David Livingstone

Purpose of the Mission: Glory of God
Fuel of the Mission: Power of God
Cost of the Mission: Our comfort (John 20)

  • We take our eyes off ourselves.
  • We see the desperate need of the world around us.
  • We surrender our rights in order to give others hope. (Phil 2)
    • Generosity is the mark of New Testament Christians.

Life Truth: The biggest danger we face is not a lack of resources but rather a multitude of excuses.

2011 Vision: Four Areas of Focus

Local: Become a Gospel Community
Local: Send out Gospel Communities in our area

Global: Orphans (Deuteronomy 10, Psalm 10, Psalm 68)

  • ABC Homes
  • Kirubai Homes – Bangalore, India
  • Exodus Cry for EPIC Youth
  • We will serve frequently.
  • We will give sacrificially.
  • We will go purposefully.

Congregational: Church Government

  • Proverbs 14:12
  • God will bless His work that is done His way.

Life Truth: We get comfortable living very safe, yet faith cannot be practiced apart from risk.