Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, it’s hard not to notice what’s been going on with the Toronto Blue Jays this year. After some mid-season trades the Jays have become the best team in baseball in the second half of this 2015 season. If you’re on any type of social media you’ll notice a plethora of tweets and FB posts about our cities beloved team. You can tell that some people live and die with this team. With social-posts come what we know as ‘#hashtags’. My favourite out of all of them might be #ComeTogether. This so depicts what has happened with this Ball Club and its fans. The city or Toronto, the province of Ontario, the country of Canada, has #ComeTogether to support the Blue Jays. We are enthralled and enamoured with the story that is being written, hoping that its final chapter is another world series for our team. 

We can easily steal or use the same #hashtag when talking about our (or other) church community. The church #ComesTogether around the person of Jesus and the story of the gospel. We #ComeTogether as community, as a body, as a collective of people who live by an alternative and counter-cultural storyline, one that embody’s grace, love, peace, forgiveness, justice, etc. You see, the church isn’t a place, it isn’t a building, it isn’t an institution, it’s community of people who are learning what it means to love God, love our neighbour, and make the world better. 

Some say it like this…

We work hard at community. Togetherness is not just showing up
at the same place at the same time.

Christianity isn’t meant simply to
believe; it’s meant to be lived, shared, eaten, spoken, and enacted in the
presence of other people…I can’t be a Christian on my own. I need a community.
I need the church.
(Rachel Held Evens)

Israel started this for us. They were discovering what it meant to be ‘God’s people’. But things really started to snow ball with Jesus, his disciples, and the early church who we read about in Acts. 

Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is key to how we understand community. He prayed, “that all of
them may be one, Father, just
as you are in me and I am in you…
that they may be one as we are one— 23 I
in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity…
Then the world will know that you sent me and have
loved them even as you have loved me.

Jesus prayed that we would be one…that we would be community. Not just any kind of community, but one that experiences the same unity as he does with God the Father. He also says that this kind of community would be the loudest way to get the message of his love out to the world. FaceBook, Twitter and the internet – they won’t attract anyone unless the church is an ‘attractive’, loving and functional community to be a part of. 

Paul’s words about ‘the body of Christ’ 1 Corinthians 12 is an answer to Jesus’ prayer from John 17. He says, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts
form one body, so it is with Christ. For we
were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether
Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to

This connects us to Paul’s teaching in Galatians 3 where
he says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor
is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
These words are written in the context of a Roman Empire where division and class separation is the norm. Large city gatherings would divide people in classes and culture, always making you feel like you didn’t belong to one group or another. The early church, on the other hand would have a Roman, a Jew, a tax collector, a woman, a man, a slave, an business owner, all in the same room, eating the same food, drinking from the same cup, becoming community in the name of Jesus. How cool is this?
Scot McKnight describes it this way, “God designed the church to make the previously invisible
visible to God and to one another…in a new kind of fellowship that the Roman
Empire and the Jewish world had never seen before.”

The church is nothing if it is not a community.
The church is nothing if it’s not together
The church is nothing if it’s not united
We can have great music, nice props, a comfortable place to meet, but if we aren’t becoming community, if we aren’t becoming family, if we aren’t #ComingTogether as a body with Jesus at the centre (or the head as Paul writes), we’re not being who Jesus called us to be. And the world won’t get the full picture of who God is.
What are some ways that we ‘are’ community?
sunday gatherings, small(er)
groups, cheering each other on, helping someone in need, making a meal for
someone, being generous with how and what you give, praying for one another, building community – wherever and whenever we gather. 
There is more to this conversation – two parts to how we value community. We ARE community and we SERVE community. More on the second part to this next week.
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small(er) group questions:
We’ve talked about 3 values in this series. Which one most resonates with you and why?
Discovery / Story / Community?
Do you see how valuing discovery helps both the person who is searching/exploring and the person who is already in the mix of faith and following Jesus?
– what do you feel you’re still discovering in your faith journey with Jesus?
How do you value God’s story? And how would you describe the collide or the intersection with your story?
Community is a little more fresh on our minds…let’s hang out here for the rest of the discussion…
When you think ‘church’ what are some negative & then positive things that come to mind?
Jesus prayed (John 17:20-23) that we would be ‘one’ as he and the Father are one? What do you think that means? How do you think the world will know about God’s story through a heathy and vibrant church community?
The body is a NT metaphor to explain Christian community? Why is it possibly the most perfect way to describe the church?
What are your thoughts on the Bruxy & Rachel Held Evan quotes from above?
How is The Village a healthy example of God’s idea of the church? How can we be getting better?