WE ARE…a living community (2/4)

WE ARE…a living community (2/4)

Before twitter and FB profiles, people’s titles were pretty bland. Manager of HR, IT director, Head Tech, Doctor, Driver, Pastor, etc. Titles don’t begin to really tell the story do they? Barista doesn’t say much about someone’s life and character, only what they get paid to do. Even names don’t say much about you. We know that names have historical meaning, but in reality we bring meaning & purpose to our names.

If I were to give myself some extra profile or work related names I’d say that I’m…
– an architect of community engagement
– a designer of authentic and truthful conversations
– discovering the art of neighbouring
Some of my friends got creative…
– Ambassador of Hope, CEO of Inspiration (Mike Crofts on his emails)
– Investor of people, distributor of Joy (Renzi Laserna)
– Bringer of laughter and joy (Joey Fletcher on his twitter page)
How would you describe a (our) church community, The Village? Some of you may know or remember this; before we launched and went public, we were known as _______ Church. Why? One, because we were figuring out who we were and who we wanted to be, and two, we had a feeling that no matter what we called ourselves, it would be how we lived, acted, worshiped, served, that would truly define who we were. A name on a sign doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. What we know for sure is that we are becoming a community of people who love God, love our neighbours, and make the world better. So we hope that people fill in the ________ with words like, hospitable, welcoming, loving, patient, foodies :), and other words like godly, Jesus followers, peace makers, etc. 
In our first instalment of this series, we started by saying WE ARE a LEARNING community. This is based on many places in the NT where we see followers of Jesus and subsequently, the early church, devote themselves to teaching. They were learners of the gospel message; discoverers of truth in Jesus; investigators of God’s Kingdom through the life and teaching of Jesus. But it can’t stop there. If we are only learners of the gospel, but never get around to living out our discoveries of truth, we are learning in vain.  This is why James says in his NT letter (1:22), Don’t just listen to the word and do nothing about it, Act on what you hear.
Henri Nouwen encourages us to live our way into a new way of thinking. NT Wright says that followers of Jesus should practice the art of living as good citizens…living (like) Jesus in public. 
But what does that mean? How does that play out? What kind of lives are we called to live, collectively and individually?
Here are a few things the Bible shows us – a few ways that our lives can and must reflect the faith we have in Jesus:
Lives defined by LIGHT

In Ephesians 5:8, Paul says something about Christ followers that is very important. He talks about what they ‘were’ compared who the ‘are’. He says that once their life was in darkness, but now it is light. And then he says, ‘Live as children of the light’.  

It’s hard to see darkness inside of you. It’s tough to identify what needs fixing. One thing we know, Jesus makes dark things light; he makes broken things whole. Our lives as followers of Jesus can and must be represented by light. John says something similar in his short letter (1 John 1:5). “God is light, in him there is no darkness…walk in the light as he is in the light.”

Lives exemplified by FRUIT

Both Jesus and Paul refer to our new lives as fruit bearing. If we are connected to the vine, and we are branches, then we are bound to bear fruit (John 15). This theme continues when Paul talks about the fruit of the spirit. He says that our lives bear fruit like love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, etc. 

Of course Jesus words in Matthew 7 might be the most pointed. He says that we will be known by our fruit – known by what comes out of us. This of course can go one way or the another. Healthy trees grow healthy fruit, unhealthy trees grow…well, you get the picture.

I want to be known for things that make a difference, things that change the world, things that reflect the character of Jesus. 

Lives dripping with HUMILITY

The character of Jesus has always been closely related to humility. You can have all the good fruit you want, but if it’s served with a hint of arrogance, I guarantee you it won’t taste good at all.

James says (3:13) “Are any of you wise or sensible? Show it by living right and being humble…”
When Paul challenges us to be like Jesus in Philippians 2, he refers to the humility that drips from who Jesus is.
And way back during the time of the prophets, Micah (6:8) answers the question, God what do you want from me, by saying three simple things: act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.

Eugene Peterson paraphrases humility like this, “Don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously”

When asked the question again, what does it mean to live out our faith in Jesus, these 3 things sums it up pretty well: Be Light – Be Fruitful – Be Humble! Are these the things people see in you, in us, in our church community? I hope so. Better question might be this: Is who we are, slowly, but surely, beginning to match up with who we want to become?

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(small group questions)

What kind of creative (job or non-job) title would you like others to know you by? Could you come up with one? If not a title, what’s one word that could define you?

James 1:22 says, Don’t just listen to the word and do nothing about it, Act on what you hear. What do you think about that? In light of that verse what do you think of this statement, If we are only learners of the gospel, but never get around to living out our discoveries of truth, we are learning in vain? Or this one, followers of Jesus should practice the art of living as good citizens…living (like) Jesus in public?

The Bible says that we should live as children of the Light. (Eph 5:18) How?

Jesus said we would be known by our fruit & Paul says that we can have the fruit of the Spirit? Is that evident in us…a little or enough? Is that fruit simply another way of saying that we can look and live like Jesus? What can we do to see these fruits growing in us?

Both James (NT) & Micah (OT) encourage us not to take ourselves too seriously, but to take God seriously. This has to do with humility. Why do we love humble people? What is attractive about it? How can it enhance all our other good and godly gifts and character traits?

Live Well!

WE ARE…a learning community (1/4)

WE ARE…a learning community (1/4)

(This past Sunday at The Village we started a 4 part series that will kickstart our fall season)

September is a great time to hit the reset or refresh button. We tend to look for reasons to do that, mainly because it’s very easy to get out of sync. For example, this summer I definitely got out of alignment in how, when and what I ate. Guess what, this fall it shows. Some people have winter tires, I’m making a splash with a summer tire. (now I have until Christmas to lose it before the winter one arrives)

Over the next 4 posts you’ll get a sense of re-alignment, re-prioritizing, maybe a little rebooting too. When we think about what kind of church community we want to be, a number of things come to mind: Loving, Caring, Honest, Welcoming, Spiritual, Creative, Jesus focused, spirit led, and the list goes on. At The Village we’ve chosen to highlight 3 words: Discovery, Story & Community. We feel that they cover a wide enough spectrum and they communicate much of who we want to be and what we want be known for.

Since we talk about these words often, I thought we could look at things from a difference angle and perhaps use some other words to add to the ones we already appreciate so much. If someone journeyed with The Village for a few weeks, what would they say about us? How would they define us? What words would they use to communicate their experience. I hope that they would at least say this about us – That WE ARE…
– a learning community
– a living community
– a loving community
– a Jesus community

What is important about being a learning community? Why does that word come into play for a church community? Well, if we hope that others discover God with us and us with them, there’s bound to be lots of learning going on. The discovery process is a beautiful thing – in it we are becoming more and more aligned with the ways of Jesus. God invites us on a journey to discover him. The scriptures are really about people who are figuring out (learning) why it’s better to follow God than anything else and that Jesus is the God we can follow. This happens through teaching, various forms of teaching: often times with words, many times through example and metaphor. The word teach or teaching is found well over 100 times in the scripture, mainly in the NT. The earliest church communities fed on and grew from the teaching of Jesus and subsequently, the apostles. If you wonder why teaching takes up more than a 1/3 of Sunday church gathering, it’s because through the teaching of scripture that the church has grown to what it is at today.

Think about this. We’ve been (both the church and the rest of the world) talking about Jesus for over 2000 years. Who gets that kind of longevity? Artists are lucky if their music or literature is even talked about 1 year after release. In our twitter/FB world, most posts don’t get a second glance. Jesus’ words, his compelling message about peace, love, grace and the kingdom of God, has been getting around for a very long time. As an old school gospel preacher might say, ‘this stuff will preach’!

So how does a church community continue to grow and become all that God would have it to be? By being a place where learning is valued, where questions are appreciated, where answers are looked for, where discovery is essential, both by the veteran follower of Jesus and the one who’s taking their first steps. We want to be a learning community. Not just any kind, but a safe kind. The kind where anyone and everyone who wants to discover Jesus, feels like they can do so at their own pace.

King David, in a Psalm full of both affirming thoughts about God and questions about His ways, says this, “teach me your ways oh Lord, that I may walk in your truth” (Psalm 86:11). There’s no better way to approach our faith journey that this. Let’s break it down:

Teach me (teach me what) your ways (who’s ways) Oh Lord (what do I do with his ways) so that I may walk (so learning his ways helps me live/walk, but how, in what way) in your truth (got it).

Jesus, when describing our relationship to him and to the Father uses the metaphor of a tree (vine), a branch and fruit (John15). He invites us to be connected to him (the vine) so that we (the branches) can grow and (eventually) bear fruit. We learn (grow, discover, become) by being connected to him. Jesus is the teacher who we listen to and watch. If you’ve ever grown anything, from flowers to vegetables, you’ve noticed that nothing grows to full form over night. We take for granted the goodness of fruit or the health of a strong tree. In a church community, you will have different people at different stages of faith; from veterans to newbies, from people who aren’t phased by anything to those who really struggle with doubt. Learning communities value everyone – we appreciate those who are asking all the questions and those who now have a few more answers than they did at first. John 15 teaches not only to be connected to Jesus, but to also appreciate all the branches that are growing out of the vine, and then to nurture the learning process so the fruit grows well and is spread around to make the world better.

Let’s be a learning community who listens and watches (Proverbs 18:13, 19:27, Luke 5:1, 2 Timothy 1:3), who follows and acts (James 1:22), who discovers God in fresh ways, and who stays connected (John 15:5) to Jesus, the vine. This will benefit everyone who calls The Village home (insert your own local church community here if you will) and it will benefit anyone willing to take a risk and begin a journey, so they too can discover God with us.

WE ARE…a learning community

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small group notes : fall season-2014 (#1)

Do you think people participate in a church community to learn? If so, why? If not, what scares people about that idea or word?

Do we think that characters (people) in the scripture stories had it all together or that they were learning/discovery more about God everyday? You think they were figuring things out too?

The church has been teaching and talking about Jesus for a very long time? What is so fascinating about his message or story that has kept this tradition alive for so long?

How can our learning stay fresh? How should our learning environment be safe? What’s your favourite part of a Sunday gathering: worship, coffee break, teaching, other? (be honest)

Here’s Psalm 86:11 expanded…
Teach me (teach me what) your ways (who’s ways) Oh Lord (what do I do with his ways) so that I may walk (so learning his ways helps me live/walk, but how, in what way) in your truth (got it).
What do you think of it? How can this verse shape the way we approach God’s word and ways?

Jesus uses the metaphor of (he being the) vine and (us being) branches in John 15:5. How do these words relate to learning or discovering the gospel story?

We’re going to look at James 1:22 next week. If you have time, feel free to read it once before we close the night. If you really have time, you can talk about it a little too.



Over a 4 week span we will journey through what we value at The Village. We will take a deeper look into our DNA. What makes us unique? What defines our rhythm in life? How does our growing relationship with Jesus make our lives look different.

Starting on September 14 we will talk about these things:

WE ARE…a learning community
(why teaching and discovering is an essential part of a healthy church)
WE ARE…a living community
(why the story of God can’t stay on paper)
WE ARE…a loving community
(why God’s story and our story combine for loving action in our world)
WE ARE…a Jesus community
(why who we follow is the most important aspect of faith)