And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV).
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. ~ Philippians 2:1-4 (MSG).
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. ~ Acts 2:42, 44-47
Ellen G. White
"There is sad lack in the church, of Christian love for one another. This love is easily extinguished; and yet without it we cannot have Christian fellowship, nor love for those for whom Christ died." ~ Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 164
"The church is a Christian society, formed for the members composing it, that each member may enjoy the assistance of all the graces and talents of the other members, and the working of God upon them, according to their several gifts and abilities. The church is united in the holy bonds of fellowship in order that each member may be benefited by the influence of the other. All are to bind themselves to the covenant of love and harmony. The Christian principles and graces of the whole society of believers is to gather strength and force in harmonious action." ~ The Remnant Church; Its Organization, Authority, Unity, and Triumph, p. 52
"In the church of God today brotherly love is greatly lacking. Many of those who profess to love the Saviour neglect to love those who are united with them in Christian fellowship. We are of the same faith, members of one family, all children of the same heavenly Father, with the same blessed hope of immortality. How close and tender should be the tie that binds us together. The people of the world are watching us to see if our faith is exerting a sanctifying influence upon our hearts. They are quick to discern every defect in our lives, every inconsistency in our actions. Let us give them no occasion to reproach our faith." ~ Testimonies for the Church Vol. 8, p. 242.
- Shaun Stevenson in “3 Ways the Church Can Build Better Community,” Relevant Magazine, March 19, 2015.
- “Sometimes I wonder if community-building in many churches has fallen into the same trap that so many other things have fallen into: We talk more about it more than we actually practice it. Sermons, Bible study books, podcasts, tweets, Facebook rants—they've addressed community at some point. Home groups sit around and talk to each other about how great their community is when they may have someone sitting on the sofa right next to them who feels wildly disconnected from everyone else. We love the idea of community—everyone engaged and involved and connected—but how many people show up like I did to the back of that church, longing for someone to reach out to them, shake their hand and have more than a two-second conversation?”
- Gina Magyar-Russell, Paul J. Deal, and Iain Tucker Brown, “Potential Benefits and Detriments of Religiousness and Spirituality to Emerging Adults” in Carolyn McNamara Barry and Mona M. Abo-Zena, ed. (2014). Emerging Adults’ Religiousness and Spirituality: Meaning Making in an Age of Transition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Among emerging adults, we turn to the idea of seeking a home, that is, searching for belonging in a safe, communal sphere that provides an established worldview and access to peers, mentors, and elders…empirical research demonstrates that spiritual and religious communities and role models represent an enormously significant resource for the value formation and development of religiousness in emerging adults. (p. 47-49.)
- Rainer, Thom S. and Rainer, Sam S. III. (2008). Essential Church: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts. Nashville TN: B & H Publishing.
- In fact 60% of formerly churched eighteen- to thirty-five-year-olds are willing to return to church if a friend or acquaintance invited them.” (p. 122).
- Rainer, Thom S. and Geiger, Eric. (2006). Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.
- Sadly, most churches are like poor relay teams. Instead of caring about the handoffs, they are preoccupied with the programs. They pay little attention to how people are moved to greater levels of commitment. They ignore what happens between the programs. Simple churches pay attention to the handoffs.They have grasped the truth that assimilation effectiveness is more important than programmatic effectiveness (p. 73).
- When a church is fully aligned all ministries are operating from the same ministry blueprint… Without alignment, the church can be a multitude of sub-ministries. in this case each ministry has its own leaders who are only passionate about their specific ministry. They rarely identify with the entire church but are deeply committed to their own philosophy of ministry. In a church that lacks alignment everybody is competing for the same space, resources, volunteers, and time on the calendar (p. 75).
- Waggoner, Brad J. (2008). The Shape of Faith to Come: Spiritual Formation and The Future of Discipleship. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.
- If leaders are to biblically shape the faith to come, we must move past the idea of a “friendly church” to the concept of a “church of friends.” We must get past our superficial smiles and handshakes to build significant relationships and create a fellowship of friends within our congregations. A culture of fellowship includes these elements: People over Programs – The things we value in our congregations are revealed in our priorities. . .. To biblically shape the faith to come, we will constantly scrutinize our priorities, making sure religious activity never supplants the priority of building relationships. Showing Up – we must encourage our churchgoers to show up, gathering together on a regular basis. Transparency – We will model a culture of fellowship through appropriate levels of transparency, teaching our members that a loving safe environment creates an openness that allows them to experience deep meaningful relationships. Spiritual Time – We will routinely emphasize the biblical admonition to guard our hearts and keep a safe distance from those who are not pursuing God . . . The point is that we cannot allow unbelievers or even misguided unbelievers to have access to our hearts. Forgiveness – In a culture of forgiveness, we will teach members about God’s ever-present grace encouraging them to release the heavy burden of unforgiveness. We will show members the spiritually practical need to let go of pride, fear, or old resentments. Prayer – We will consistently remind our congregations that biblical prayer binds our hearts to God and to one another. We will teach our people to pray, and then give them many, many, opportunities to pray together. (p. 261-263)
- Frazee, Randy. (2001). The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
- “You can have a small group and not experience community – but you cannot have community apart from a small group experience.” (p. 22).
- “From a physical standpoint a community is a collection of individuals, but the residents of a true community act like members of something that is larger than themselves.” (p. 56-57, quotes John Locke)