If You Started a New Community, Where Would You Begin?


My friend Josh is far left swimming with friends in the Amazon.

My friend Josh and I talked about community over a meal at our local Culver’s Restaurant. Out of that conversation, three truths emerged about a sustained presence in community.

Begin with passion. This isn’t anything new. I’ve written about this before (check out “Small Town Triples in Size Overnight”). In Josh’s case, he loves wrestling (not watching WWE or horsing around with friends; but the real go-to-the-mat stuff). Something that involves wrestling gets his attention.

Find challenging people. Someone who knew Josh and his love for wrestling invited him to a Christian wrestling club. The group meets weekly and focuses the first 90 minutes on wrestling. They challenge each other to improve as wrestlers, but not just as wrestlers.

Move into a deeper and wider purpose. Purpose in community always has two distinct directions—deeper down and further out.

The guys who meet on Tuesday evenings not only wrestle with one another, but they also wrestle with Scripture in order to grow deeper in their faith. They spend the final hour together in study, conversation, and prayer. That’s going deeper down.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15 NIV).

In learning to live out their faith, Josh and his friends follow this advice: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV).

          The further out for Josh and friends involves a Brazil connection, a jujitsu instructor in São Paulo. Four guys from the local group travel every year to São Paulo in order to help shape the lives of young men who’ve grown up in impoverished conditions.

Josh made the trip this past summer and shared both his wrestling skills and his love for Jesus Christ on the jujitsu mat and in a Brazilian prison.

Let’s ask a few questions to think through your specific community in Christ.

What’s a strong passion in your life? Do you love sports or working on cars or baking or reading? Can you take your passion and find others who love what you love?

         Who are the people who’d join you in your passion? Is their love for baking, for example, strong enough to build a regular weekly gathering?

How do you build in a recognized deeper purpose? This isn’t meant to be stealth evangelism. The community recognizes their common interest but want to take that interest and springboard it into a deeper connection to Christ and His people.

How can the community take its deeper love and reach further out? Growing deeper seems to happen when the community’s purpose includes looking beyond the group. How can you connect your passion to the nearby needs of others?

In Josh’s case, the wrestling club worked all year doing what they loved while focused on a particular outreach, a Christian jujitsu club in São Paulo, Brazil. Not everyone traveled there but everyone helped prepare the group through their study, conversation, and prayer in community.

I’m curious. Where have you seen passion and purpose connect to create a thriving community? What is something you love that could serve to connect with others in Christian community?

Recommended links:

“Lean on Me” by April McGowan (great story illustrating how compassion connects)

“The 3 Components of Job Satisfaction” by Michael Hyatt (passion is one of the 3)

“Small Group Surprises” by Jon Acuff (recognizing you still have a way to go to know others)

Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes

Two men. Two eternal destinies.

One common hope.

A poignant and compelling portrayal of heaven and hell, with a powerful look at redemption from the perspective of both the lost…and the saved. Well done!–Susan May Warren, best-selling, award-winning author of You Don’t Know Me.

“Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes” was a compelling read for me. The vivid descriptions challenged and ignited my imagination. Tom skillfully laid out a clever story that caused me to think and made me want to read to the end.–Ron Fruit GM, WRCO Radio

Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes can be found at:

WestBow Press

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

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About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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9 Responses to If You Started a New Community, Where Would You Begin?

  1. Kari Scare says:

    Read this post last night and woke up thinking about “deeper down and further out.” Stirred something in my spirit for sure.

    • tnealtarver says:

      The saying is reminiscent of what was said in “The Last Battle” in Lewis’ final book in the Chronicle of Narnia series. In speaking of Aslan’s kingdom, people moved “further up and further in.”

      • Kari Scare says:

        That’s it! I knew it was connecting with something for me. Very cool use of that quote. Very possible something will come from me using it too. The Holy Spirit is connecting it with my current focus on prayer and on studying Proverbs 31.

      • tnealtarver says:

        Sounds great. So were the Chronicles read as a family at your house? We read them all while Daniel was young. I loved those moments when we were together and Ellen read out loud to Daniel and me.

  2. Kari Scare says:

    Absolutely! I read them on my own as a kid, then I read them to my oldest son when he was about 7. THEN, my youngest son and I listened to them on audio book. We own the movies and watch them every so often. My oldest and I have even watched the old movies that we rented from the library. One of my top 5 favorite series of all time for sure.

    • tnealtarver says:

      I think BBC did an excellent job of releasing the series in a video format closer to the actual books. The newer versions have better graphics/special effects but at times stray from the story (sorely disappointed in “Voyage of the Dawntreader”–my personal favorite of the written series).

      • Kari Scare says:

        What we enjoyed most about the BBC versions were how close they stuck to the story lines of the books. We love the newer versions too, but they do stray quite a bit a times. My boys comment on this often when we read books and then watch the movies, and I tell them, “The movies are not the books and the books are not the movies.” It’s just how I personally am able to enjoy them both; otherwise, I just don’t enjoy movies as much. I had to do this with Lord of the Rings and Eragon too.

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