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Biblical Community. Houston Graduate School of Theology Spiritual Formation Unit CS 830. Foundations of biblical community.

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biblical community

Biblical Community

Houston Graduate School of Theology

Spiritual Formation Unit

CS 830

foundations of biblical community
Foundations of biblical community
  • Marion K. Rich – The early Christians were often together around the teachings of Christ—the word, prayer, the sacraments. They were together to share their common life in Jesus. Somehow we need to rediscover the life the early Christians shared together—the kind of fellowship that gets deeper than football scores and the latest fashions.

Albert J. Wollen – In 1965, Dr. Francis Schaeffer made the following comment about the future of the church: “Unless the church changes its forms and gets back to community and sharing of lives personally, the church is done.”


Larry Crabb – A central task of community is to become a place safe enough for each of us to own our brokenness. Only then can the power of connecting do its job. Only then can community be used of God to restore our souls.


Gilbert Bilezikian – Community is deeply grounded in the nature of God. It flows from who God is. Because God is community, God creates community. It is God’s gift of self to humans.

  • Community was promised and planned for in the OT with the development of a nation.

Community was restored in Jesus.

  • Les Steele – By gathering followers around him, Jesus implicitly affirmed that participating in community plays a central role in maturing.
  • Community in the NT – the “one anothers.”
true community begins with a biblical understanding of love
True community begins with a biblical understanding of love
  • Longsuffering – what love is
    • Greek meaning is “patience” or the act of bearing with someone.
    • OT – Describes God
      • Ex 34:5-7
      • Ps 103:8-13
      • Jonah 4:2
    • NT – Since God has been patient with us, we should be patient with one another.

Descriptions of “longsuffering” in the negative sense

    • Love is not easily provoked or not easily drawn into anger.
    • Love thinks no evil.
    • Love is not envious.

Kind – what love does

    • OT – Describes God and is usually partnered with “longsuffering.”
    • NT – Believers are to love as God loves. Therefore, believers are to be kind and bear the stamp of the Holy Spirit by displaying kindness as a fruit of the Spirit’s presence.
      • Gal 5:16-25
      • Eph 4:29-32

Descriptions of “kindness” in the negative sense

    • Love is not boastful, proud, or arrogant.
      • Boasting – intellectual pride emphasized through speech
      • Arrogance – action or the way boasting comes across
      • Pride – seeks to build itself up by tearing others down
    • Love is not rude.
    • Love is not self-seeking.
spiritual vs unspiritual community
Spiritual vs. Unspiritual Community
  • Conflicted relationships met by Spiritual Friendships(Care of the Soul)
  • Conflicted relationships handled by Congenial Relationships,Cooperative Relationships, and Consoling Relationships.

And, as needed, Spiritual Direction

  • (Cure of the Soul)
  • And, as needed, Counseling Relationshipsor Conforming Relationships

Characterized by Dependence on the Spirit(Listening to God through word and spirit)

  • Characterized by Dependence on the Flesh
barriers to community
Barriers to Community
  • Antonyms of Community
    • Disparity
    • Differences
    • Dissimilarity
    • Disagreement
    • Conflict
    • Private/Personal
    • Individual
  • Synonyms of Community
    • Nurtured
    • Nourished
    • Sustained
    • Strengthened
    • Educated
    • Discipled
    • Corporate
barriers to community1
Barriers to Community
  • But where do we find the biggest barriers to community?
  • What are our tendencies when trying to make things better in our churches, homes, lives?
  • We want spiritual community! Why don’t we get it?
  • How can we incorporate the principles of biblical love with our desires for community?
family systems thinking
Family Systems Thinking
  • Personal Transformation
    • Happens best as an inside-out process of committing to obey Christ.
    • Happens best in the context of a loving community that extends grace and truth.
    • Happens best through development of a reflective lifestyle.

Differentiation of Self

    • The ability to know oneself apart from others.
    • The effort to define oneself, to control oneself, to become a more responsible person, and to permit others to be themselves as well.
    • The ability to remain connected in relationship to significant people in our lives and yet not have our reactions and behavior determined by them.


    • Anxiety, most simply described, is the response to threat, whether real or perceived.
    • Acute vs. chronic (reactivity).
    • Chronic anxiety or reactivity is usually a result of a perceived threat to hidden needs.
    • Usually, a person will discover through this process three or four general needs he or she attempts to meet in unhealthy ways on a regular basis.

Chronic anxiety is most evident during times of:

    • Conflict
    • Distancing or cut-off
    • Overfunctioning/underfunctioning
    • Projection (making someone or something the problem
the dance goes on
The Dance Goes On

Although each response keeps the anxiety spill contained in one place, each also contributes systemically to the level of anxiety in the system. We are anxious, we react, and we produce a symptom. We become more anxious because of the presence of the symptom. The dance goes on.

The Leader’s Journey, 58

anxious systems
Anxious Systems
  • Heightened level of reactivity – people confuse feelings with opinions – everything seems dire and serious.
  • Herding instinct – the greater the level of anxiety, the more we pressure one another to be the same, think the same, and conform.

Blame displacement – the tendency to look outward for explanations rather than inward.

  • Quick fix – the focus is on eliminating the symptoms rather than on dealing with those underlying emotional processes keeping the symptoms alive.
  • Poor leadership – the lack of a leader who operates with clear vision and thoughtfully-held principles.
become less anxious
Become less anxious
  • Increase self-awareness – recognize underlying unhealthy needs and allow God to replace those needs with godly virtues.
  • Monitor thinking patterns – take time to recognize how anxiety feels and when it is in operation.
  • Manage feelings – wait before reacting.
  • Slow the pace – take a step back to observe and think.
the process of transformation
The Process of Transformation
  • When recognizing patterns or tendencies of behavior, invite the presence of Christ into the scenario to reveal the source.
  • Ask Christ to reveal the needs you are attempting to meet on your own and, possibly, the source of those needs.
  • Dialogue about your discoveries with someone you trust (spiritual friend/director).
what s next
What’s next?
  • For the church to become the safest place on earth, the process of moving toward biblical community begins with me…
transformational goals worksheet
Transformational Goals Worksheet
  • Answer the six questions with the help of a spiritual director (or more than one).
  • Surprise! You may use first person pronouns on the worksheet, only in response to the questions.
  • Instead of a “conclusion,” please write a one-page reflection on the process and please return to third person writing for the one-page paper.

Then, after your process of working through transformational goals, complete the assignment as directed in the syllabus.