You Are Only as Strong as Your Foundation

Your ability to stand strong is based completely on the strength of what you are standing upon. My daughters make me nervous when they climb on top of something that is not sturdy, something that will give out and cause them to fall. Standing is really not about our ability but the strength of what we are standing upon.

For this reason, the apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian believers that they not only received and believed the gospel, but they continually stood on the firm foundation of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1).

In the same way, community is only as strong as what it is built upon. The community (common unity) among believers in a church is only strong if it stands upon that which is everlasting and eternal. If community is built only on life stages, interests, or zip codes, the community is weak. And thus it disappears as the foundation shifts.

In John 17, Jesus prayed for us–those who would believe in Him through the message of the disciples. He prayed that our community would be strong and that we would be one as He and the Father are one. We see two challenges in John 17 that should inform how churches build community among those God entrusts to the church.

First, community must be built upon the pure and faultless Word of God. Jesus prayed for His disciples, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth” (v. 17). If folks in small groups, Sunday School classes, or whatever the church calls smaller gatherings, if they are not forming relationships around the Word, then the community is inevitably and infinitely shallow. It will not remain. God has anointed His Word as the living and active sword to wreak holy havoc in our lives. His Word sharpens and purifies us.

Second, community must result in mission. The end result of small groups gathering must not be merely small groups gathering. True community that stands on Jesus and His accomplished work for us results in mission. Jesus prayed, “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me” (v. 21). Jesus’ prayer for our community has always been that it would result in others knowing that He is the sent One–the One who came for us.

Church leaders, don’t just build community. Build community that lasts.

Many church leaders are deciding that they don’t just want groups of people meeting, but they want groups of people (kids, students, and adults) building community on the gospel of Jesus. They want people studying the gospel not in isolation but in community. Because of this longing from church leaders, we have recently launched The Gospel Project. It is an ongoing study (three years) that is designed to bring groups to Jesus through all of Scripture. It can also be utilized by groups that meet for shorter seasons. We have been overwhelmed with the response thus far to The Gospel Project. If you would like to take a look at the study, you can pilot the curriculum here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

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