This is an annual reprint in anticipation of Reformation Day.
On the Necessity of Christian Community and Its American Bankruptcy
20. The culture running counter to the kingdom is neither sympathetic to nor conducive to the experience of real community.
21. The American Christian, immersed in self-idolatrous consumeristic culture, is in his attitudes and behaviors unresponsive to the biblical call to Christian community.
22. The evangelical Church in America, having capitulated uncritically to the values of the surrounding culture, is unwittingly supporting the idolatry of Self and thereby suffocating the community it professes to desire.
23. Discipleship is designed to be experienced in community, but we have privatized our faith.
24. The legacy of legalism, gossip, condemnation, and bigotry in the fundamentalist church suffocates community by removing the gospel-honoring security of bold confession and relational authenticity.
25. The legacy of license, corruption, and theological superficiality in the modernist church suffocates community by affirming the Self and its prerogatives as the Christian’s real gods.
26. There is no such thing as “virtual community.” Technology is a valuable tool in the contemporary church, but it is a powerful one that is used too often uncritically.
The uncritical use of technology by the Church only fosters individualism and facilitates separation from incarnational community.
27. Christian community requires that Christians submit themselves to the benefit of the community.
28. Every Christian is endowed by the Spirit with gifts and talents for the edification of the Church and the glory of God, not only or primarily for the fulfillment of self.
29. When a Christian refuses to submit to community, he is saying “I have no need of you” (1 Cor. 12:21) and therefore is spiting the exhortation of Scripture and despising the purpose of giftedness, which is “the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7).
30. When a Christian refuses to submit to community he is declaring himself better than others — even if he is abstaining because of elitism or arrogance in the Church — and is guilty of hypocrisy.
31. Christian community ought to be oriented around the treasure of the gospel and purposed around the proclamation of the kingdom.
32. The American Church’s occasional attempts at community are oriented around superficial interests, hobbies, self-actualization, and the livelihood of the church organization.
33. Christians need gospel-oriented community because we are sinners and constantly need to have our brothers and sisters speak and be the gospel to us, and because we constantly need to speak and be the gospel to our brothers and sisters.
34. The gospel is about reconciliation; therefore, to orient around the gospel means (a) to enjoy and to proclaim the good news of the sinner’s reconciliation with God through Christ’s finished work and (b) to enjoy and to embody the good news of the sinner’s reconciliation with other sinners through Christ’s finished work.
35. Christian community is primarily about “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5), not mere fraternization.
36. Thousands of churches holding out Acts 2 as the ideal picture of the Church do so while simultaneously, in the context of their message and their methods, subverting the likelihood of their church resembling what is seen in Acts 2.
37. Our triune God exists in community, so the American Christian’s refusal to submit to community is disobedience to the first commandment.
38. Because Christian community reflects reconciliation with God and reconciliation with our neighbor, the American Christian’s refusal to submit to community is disobedience to the Great Commandment.
(Tomorrow: 19 theses on “church.”)