There is something profoundly deep and remarkable about authentic community and its impact on the spiritual and emotional development of Christ followers. This environment is the impetus for help, healing and hope for those seeking to grow as disciples and it is the place where true soul renovation can occur while in the company of other like-minded believers. This communal aspect is evident in the unconditional love and sacrificial care that each member offers to others, and it is the soil in which true disciples of Christ can develop and lasting transformation can ensue. It is the church living in life-giving community.
In This Article:
- Defining the Church as a Community
- The Role of the Church in Society
- The Work of the Church as Community
- How To Strengthen Community
- What Is the Importance of Church as Community?
Defining the Church as a Community
Oxford dictionary lists one definition of community as “a group of people living together and practicing common ownership.”1 This characterization speaks well to the importance of like-mindedness when living as a community of believers. In fact, scripture addresses this dynamic when it states, “can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3, NLT) and “how wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” (Psalm 133:1, NLT). These verses and many others validate the necessity for shared purpose, vision and goals to be present when journeying together in Christ. It is an essential component — a common unity — that is vital in forming a community.
As Christians, the church as a community has a shared three-fold mission:
- Worshiping God
- Discipling believers
- Sharing the gospel with the world.
These are the key components of the Great Commission as presented by Jesus and by their very nature can only be fulfilled in the company of others (Matt. 28:18-20). In fact, God did not call us to silos of isolated effort, rather to community for maximum impact. Jesus promised that two or more gathered as his followers would assure his presence (Matt. 18:20) and become a sacred community that is committed and connected to each other and to God; this is the ultimate expression of the church as a community.
The Role of the Church in Society
The calling of God on the individual believer and the church as a community is one of impact. In fact, the Bible refers to followers of Christ as salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16), ones who influence others and provide pathways to wholeness and holiness by showing and sharing the unconditional love of God and commitment to his ways.
Jesus said this love would be a key component of his church and the attractional pull of others toward faith in God; love is the ultimate meter of true discipleship and the clear marker Jesus pointed to when he stated, “by this all people will know that you are my disciples,” (John 13:35, ESV). The church as a community proclaims the goodness of God and provides clear directions toward living a life of fulfillment and connection. As a clear reminder, it is a restorative agent in reclaiming the image of God in his crowning creation-humanity.
The Work of the Church as Community
We become our best selves in the presence of others and in accepting ourselves and each other, we encounter God’s love and heal. In this cohort of connection, we are informed, reformed and equipped to walk out purpose and destiny, both individually and communally. This engagement empowers and enables individuals to participate in meaningful service to others and intentional kingdom contribution.
It is in this place of connection that next generations receive education as life in Christ is modeled, future leaders emerge and the supernatural presence of God is ignited.2 The church as a community provides something both profound and powerful. To summarize journalist and activist Dorothy Day regarding community, we can’t love God until we love and learn to be with one another. Only then will we truly understand that the cure to loneliness is the love that comes along with community and companionship.3
In this relationship we can inspire, encourage, strengthen and help one another. It is the place where identity is forged and purpose engaged. It impacts every part of our existence and enables the blessing of God to be released (Psalm 133:1-3).
How To Strengthen Community
Healthy community is foundational to spiritual and emotional formation and the garden narrative in the first two chapters of Genesis provided a clear picture of God’s desire for us to be in relationship with him and each other. However, there are hindrances. Pain, suffering and offense are undeniable attributes of the human journey and no one is immune to hurt. The struggle with flesh is real and often wrestled out with others.
With that in mind, it is essential the church as a community practice the biblical principles of forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation while cultivating a healthy crop of spiritual fruit (Gal 5). Owning our mistakes, forgiving the failings of others and restoring relationship disarms the enemy of our souls and disables the potential destruction of community. When these attributes are engaged, next level relationship is enabled and encouraged.
What Is the Importance of Church as Community?
There is no doubt that we live in uncertain times and the opportunity for distraction, offense and isolation abound. However, that is not God’s desire, nor does it benefit humanity in any way. It has been said that the best offense is a good defense and the church as a community is the best defense against the struggles that wage war on the soul of humanity.
Christian community is the biblical prescription for the ailments of modern society and the impetus for human flourishing. In connection with each other, we have opportunity to best express God’s love, empower each other to fulfill destiny and equip one another to withstand adversity. The church as a community is good armor against every enemy and good soil for transformative growth.
If you recognize the role of the church in society and strive to promote human flourishing, consider earning your Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry degree at GCU, where you will take courses that can teach you the foundation of building community in the church. Fill out the form on this page to learn more.
1 English Oxford Living Dictionaries. Community. Retrieved June 16, 2023.
2 Hogan, S. (2019). The Role of Sacred Community in Facilitation the Spiritual Formation of Individuals. Presented at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies.
3 Day, D. (1952). The long loneliness: The autobiography of Dorothy Day (pp. 285-286). New York: HarperOne.
Approved by faculty for the College of Theology on June 25, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.