By Jonathan Moseley
The Family Rhythms
Part of what it means to be a Christ follower is that you have been given a new family. And this family has a set of rhythms God has established that aims at seeing your happiness in Him and your love for people ever increase. These 5 practices below are not a checklist, but rather, opportunities for you to experience Jesus. Since the church is meant to be an extension of Jesus' presence, we experience Jesus personally when we share experiences with his people. In other words, we are actually selling ourselves short of experiencing Jesus in all these different ways when we fail to practice these rhythms.
They help us taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8). We celebrate that we might taste the joy the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share together. We counsel one another according to God's word that we might taste the goodness of his wisdom. We care for another that we might taste the comfort of his presence. We confess to one another that we might taste his loving and merciful forgiveness. We are commissioned to the world that we might bring others into all these wonderful and beautiful experiences that pertain to findingand following Jesus. They are not an end to themselves; rather, they serve to bring us to himself. Here's a closer look at each one:
Celebration | One of the reasons you see so many festivals in the Old Testament is because God wants his people to be filled with joy. If it were not for Jesus turning water into wine, the excitement of the wedding celebration would have abruptly ended. Healthy communities like to brag on God by highlighting the sweetness of his presence, the timeliness of his provisions, and the goodness of his gifts. Birthdays—for example, honor the person born, but it’s also an opportunity for a group to thank God for the friendship they have in that person. The habit of celebration is the discipline of thanking God for the little and the big, for the answered prayers and the unanswered, for the people he gives us and the situations he places us in.
(Ask someone in your small group, “What can I celebrate with you?”)
Counsel | As we seek to glorify God, we need help. Our perspectives are often limited and our own biases, emotions, and struggles with sin can create blind spots. As God's people, we want nothing more than the decisions we make and the lifestyle we choose to make much of Jesus; therefore, we give godly people a say in our lives so they can help us get rid of the things that hinder our relationship with God. We don't adhere to personal opinion, culture, or Hollywood, but we take very seriously the counsel that comes from God's Word. Because we want to stay faithful to God and uphold him as our heart's greatest desire, we are quick to invite others into our thoughts and plans, eager to receive counsel, even correction, as we process together what it means to live out God's will.
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. Proverbs 27:9
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:5-6
(Ask someone you trust, “What do you think about ... ?)
Care | Each of us carries burdens, disappointments, and felt needs. We walk around with wounds from our past and anxiety and uncertainty about the future. But we are not meant to walk alone. God has providentially placed you with a people so that you would be an answer to someone's prayer. Those in your church are meant to tangibly feel the love and comfort of Jesus through your presence (Matt. 25:31-40, Gal. 6:2). A healthy church community looks after one another by providing both physical and spiritual care.
(Ask someone in your group “Do you need anything?”)
Confession | We often hide our faults because we're afraid the real us is unlovable. Yet, there is hardly anything more freeing and beautiful than when we are totally known and yet completely loved. We can share our failures and our mistakes with God's people because we are not validated based on how good we look. We have all fallen short, and thus, we trust in Jesus' performance--not our own. We no longer have to present a fake version of ourselves; instead, we can be honest with ourselves and others as we seek to become more like Jesus. Confession is what allows friends to come alongside us to offer the help and accountability we need to see this change happen.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13
(Ask someone in your group, "Is there anything you'd like to bring to the light?")
Commission | If small groups were solely inward focused, they would be more like a country club than anything else. But Jesus himself has tasked us with a mission--one we do not go about alone and one that we are all apart of--making disciples. Groups that are healthy always have this mission in mind. Like enlisted soldiers, small groups function as patrols carrying out the orders of their commander--strategizing, laboring, sacrificing, loving--all as a team to see the Gospel make its way into hearts and the family of God enlarge.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
(Ask the group, "Where do we want to invest? Who do we want to reach? How can we do it together?")
The Goal of the 5 C's: Christ Himself
What Christians need most is Jesus himself. And the best thing a community can do is treasure Jesus all together in all of life. Whenever Jesus is absent from conversation, void of celebration—whenever he stops being the source of counsel or the fuel for care—whenever the toleration of sin seems better than the emulation of his character, the community has gone from healthy to sick. Communities stay healthy when they stay centered on Christ. After all, he is the both the author of this community we call the church and the perfector of it.
Jonathan Moseley is the Director of Community of Operations at Renewal Church.