One of the questions you’ll hear a lot when you hang out with evangelical Christians is "How is your personal relationship with God?" The question in itself is not a bad question, but the question coupled with a culture of extreme individualism has some shocking effects. Christianity stands in danger of creating communities with severely disconnected members. If you’re part of a church community where you walk in, give a fake smile or shallow greeting – do your personal worship by singing, listen to the sermon and then dash for your house, then you’re already caught in the snare.
Over the past weekend we had a baby dedication at our service. The parents of the beautiful baby invited a lot of their friends. We decided to do our service in the normal way – which includes at least twenty minutes of interaction. The Kleipot community divides into small groups during the service, read the text out loud and discuss it for a few minutes. Sunday was no exception. After the service we did our announcements and reminded the church family that we’re having communion in two weeks, but the eucharist with a twist. The whole congregation will put their names on paper and put it into a box. At the end of the service we will draw names to form groups of six to eight. These groups will then elect someone as a host, go to that person’s house and actually prepare a meal and have communion together.
After our service a few people commented that they never though that one could actually have discussions during a church service. One gentleman said that he and his family would visit again; he noted that the communion thing freaks him out because it sounds "too close and intimate" but he agreed that it’s a good thing.
The Christ life is definitely about a personal relationship with God, but it’s imperative that it branches out into a communal relationship with God. Gordon Cosby (Church of the Savior) once said:
The central reality of church is a group of people called to
an ever-deepening personal belonging of friendship with Jesus of Nazareth. The
command is to abide, to dwell in him as he dwelt in the Father. You have an
image that Jesus used of total intimacy. But Jesus doesn’t give us a deeper
relationship with him apart from his Body. Jesus does not come alone. He can’t
because Jesus already has a people, he has a family. And when Jesus comes to us
he always bring his family with him. Then we say, ‘No, I want just you. What
I’ve heard about you is fairly good but what I’ve heard about your family is
not so good.’ And Jesus says, ‘We come together.’