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

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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.