American culture emphasizes the importance of the individual. With technology and packed schedules increasingly distracting us, we are becoming more disconnected than ever. Families are drifting apart and neighbors are just people we pass on the street.
American Christians have even incorporated this individualism into the way we follow God. Individual study and prayer are great, but if they are our primary method of spiritual growth, we miss out on the important benefits of community.
So what would it look like to shift from our emphasis on individual growth and discipleship to a community approach?
The answer to this question lies partly in building relationships. With a community approach, interconnected relationships between all members of a community are important, not just an individual’s relationship with the leader or leaders. Communities are stronger when members meet together to encourage and support one another.
Discipleship within community also has the potential for greater impact. We can see this in several ways:
- Community helps bring the Word of God to life.
- Communal prayer drives discipleship.
- Community is essential for effective evangelism.
- Community plays an important role in character growth.
In addition, for those involved in campus ministry there are many practical ways for incorporating community. Build a class identity and remember that parties and social events play a large role. Also, create open groups of people who are dedicated to learning together about God. These community groups pray for each other, talk about life together, reach out to their friends, and provide true friendship.
Read more about the role of community in discipleship.