By Rachel Thomas, Director of Discipleship for Women & Ministry Teams @MBCLoudoun
“A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ who lives in biblical community
and is committed to becoming like Him by obeying Him, serving Him and sharing Him.”
– McLean Bible Church definition of a disciple
The next installment of our discipleship definition break-down is “who lives in biblical community….” I’ve heard of “biblical community” my whole life, as I grew up in the church. I would say that I even experienced it at times, but really didn’t understand the implications of TRUE biblical community until I went to college.
I attended a Bible college in Chicago where we literally lived communally. We girls lived on the same floor (two to three in a room), shared a communal bathroom, walked to classes together day after day, ate in the dining hall for every meal and explored the streets and neighborhoods of the Windy City. But it wasn’t just that we “did life together” and spent almost every waking moment together that made us a community. You can experience togetherness anywhere.
The difference-making biblical community happened between classes and late at night when we prayed together, during chapel under the teaching of our godly professors and local pastors, and as we studied the Bible together, asking difficult theological questions and wrestling with interpretation of Scripture. We were there to support one another when someone got a call from home saying that a grandparent passed away or a brother overdosed (again) and when another pleaded with the Lord to come through miraculously for money to pay the upcoming semester’s bill. We rejoiced in engagements, lost family members who came to know the Lord and anonymous donations covering those school bills. We also had hard conversations—speaking the truth in love, pointing out areas of sin that we couldn’t see in ourselves, but others could.
Authentic biblical community is a mark of a real disciple of Jesus Christ. And all disciples should be in genuine biblical community with other disciples. Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas, names four aspects of biblical community: love, consistency, worship and authenticity.
In Lon’s Bible Survey Series, we learned that the book of 1 John is all about love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It starts with love. As Francis Chan wrote in his book Multiply, “It’s not about what you know—or think you know—it’s about love…. Making disciples isn’t about gathering pupils to listen to your teaching. The real focus is not on teaching people at all—the focus is on loving them…it’s all about being faithful to God’s call to love the people around you. It’s about loving those people enough to help them see their need to love and obey God.”
Consistency develops over time. Sunday after Sunday. Group meeting after group meeting. Biblical community takes time. You can’t rush it, but you need to be consistent. Look for ways to be consistent by going to the same service, sitting in the same area and trying to get to know the same people at church week after week.
Worship is something the early church did to build their biblical community. We sing a few songs at our weekend services, but worship can continue outside of the church as well. In fact, it should mark the lifestyle of every believer.
Authenticity made my college experience such a rich time of biblical community because I had to put aside my façade when these women saw me morning after morning stumbling out of my room with sleep in my eyes and bed-head. How real are you around those who think they know you best? Do they see the dark areas of your heart that you want to release to the Lord but keep stuffing down because you’re afraid of what others will think? In the context of a loving, consistent and worshipful environment, authentic living is the best way to experience true biblical community. Be real.
The truth is that we were created to live in community and in relationships with one another. God even said, “It is not good for man to live alone” (Genesis 2:18). One of Jesus’ last prayers was that all believers would be unified as He, the Father and the Holy Spirit are one (John 17:21-22). This is what God intends for the Church, as seen in Acts 2 after Christ ascended and the Spirit came upon believers (vv. 42-47). Seek out love, consistency, worship and authenticity to enhance your biblical community within McLean Bible Church as we strive to be disciples and disciplemakers!