Gospel Communities | Together Frequently 1.3 | Together in the Community
Although not necessarily a “biblical” principle in that it is mandated by a particular verse, we desire to prioritize gathering together in a third space (outside the homes and the church building) in our respective regions. We do see consistent evidence in Scripture that the believers were living in a manner that was somewhat public, and thus many were added to their number by God. Our lives as followers of Christ should never be fully private. While the imperative to reach our community for Christ has been covered at length, we will focus in this principle on the logistics of the matter.
Third space gatherings really only have two guidelines. The first is that the gathering takes place in public space. This can be a restaurant, a park, or something of the like. Each group must choose a location that is accessible and appropriate for everyone. The fancy restaurant is not a good choice if you have people in your group who do not have such luxury in their budget. The perfect picnic place with a view up on a hill very well might exclude those who are older or otherwise unable to walk or climb uphill. While certainly not all needs can be met, we must be as considerate as we possibly can to ensure that all members of our community can participate in the gathering.
The second guideline is that these gatherings are intended more for connection and invitation than strict biblical instruction or prayer. While we certainly prize bible study and prayer (as covered in the previous section on devotion), we want to provide venues where we can simply get to know one another better, have fun, and invite people who don’t know Jesus to meet people who do know him. Throughout conversation, needs and prayer requests will very likely come up, and we don’t want to shy away from these. For example, we can certainly have two or three people pray over someone who has had a rough week, or a few people can spend time on the side organizing a plan for someone who needs help moving that week. These are natural points of biblical community conversation that will always arise, and this is a good thing. However, we don’t want these to monopolize the time we have together in our third space. Devotion to the Lord and to each other is of the utmost importance, but also important is the celebration of growth, life, and holy victory and accomplishment. Spend time celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, and the like. Though the world is dark, we have a hope that will never fade away. With Christ as our champion, we have great reason to celebrate, and let these third space gatherings be the venue where laughter and love are experienced by those inside and outside the church.