Having lived in Austin for eight years before our move (five for Freeman – he took a detour to Waco when he first got to Texas…), we both had developed a deep sense of community. Cultivated and encouraged by the Biblical teachings of The Austin Stone Community Church, Freeman and I were continually learning more and more about the importance of living in community with other Christians and learning more about what it means to invite non-Christians into that community.
On that point, we were recently challenged into thinking about how Christian community can actually be one of the best apologetics that we as Christians have. When we read the story where Jesus told his disciples that he would make them fishers of men, we oftentimes get an inaccurate picture of what that meant. Fishermen back then did not just throw out one line and sit and wait for the fish to bite. It was a community event. They threw out a huge net which covered hundreds of fish and involved a large group of people to pull that net in together. When we think about Christian community and sharing the Gospel with those around us, we need to think of it in that context – a group activity.
That being said, community is an important aspect of the Christian life for so many reasons. It’s not only what Freeman and I always saw it as – a group of encouragement and support for Christians to keep one another accountable as we live this life of faith – it’s so much more than that. It’s our best way to share the love of Christ with others by inviting them into a group of people who are already living out the gospel. (And there’s a caveat here: Community is also messy. Christians are seeking to live out the gospel that we’ve come to love in all things, but sin is definitely still a part of our lives on Earth until Jesus comes back and fully reigns. That being said, you have to remember that community is also a place where we get to practice giving and receiving forgiveness because as humans, we will all disappoint each other from time to time.)
So since Freeman and I have moved to NYC, we have continued to be blessed by the community that has been cultivated around us. We have community at work with John, Anna, George, Dario, Peter, Tina, and Brooke, (and we even LIVE in the same building with some of these people, so our communal ties run deep here!) We also have community with our family – Susan, Taylor, Owen, and Krista. We also have community with friends we had before moving (Leticia, Lincoln, Lindsey, and other friends from Graffiti Church) and new friends that we have made in our community group at our new church, Apostles. We are so blessed to have so quickly cultivated such a great sense of community, and we are looking forward to deepening these relationships and using them as a way to invite in non-Christians to take part and see the Gospel lived out (hopefully).
Recently, I read a great blog about several simple ways to missionally engage with your neighbors. These are great ideas of ways that you can already be living in community with your friends and then invite in other neighbors who might not yet know Christ. If you have time, check out this post.
Finally, here are a few pictures of some of the people in our new community!