What is Christian Community
New Testament Christianity
Before He returned to heaven, Jesus made a promise
to His followers. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come
upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and
Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This promise was
fulfilled shortly after His ascension.
When the day of Pentecost had come,
they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound came from heaven
like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were
sitting…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).
The lives of Christ’s disciples were
transformed when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. They allowed God
to give them a new life and to use them to form a new society. God’s
people became a visible and united family of believers. They lived a
common life, a life devoted to Jesus Christ. Through their love for one
another, the first Christians were able to convince others of the
reality of Jesus Christ.
All who believed were together and had
all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods and
distributed them to all, as any had need. Day by day, attending the
temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food
with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all
the people. And the Lord added to their number those who were being
saved (Acts 2:44-47).
Our society has changed a lot in recent
decades. Unfortunately, much of this change is in opposition to the
Christian way of life and Gospel values. Crime, dishonesty, abortion,
broken marriages, drug abuse, the breakdown of neighborhoods, sexual
promiscuity, materialism, and cynicism have increased at an alarming
rate. There is no way to measure the emotional, psychological, and
spiritual damage that is being done. Stress, anxiety, and worry have
become part of the “normal” experience. Many people lack purpose and
have few lasting, supportive relationships – they especially lack
relationships that will help them love Jesus and live fully for Him.
Our modern society has placed
tremendous pressure on the churches. Fewer and fewer Christians are able
to stand firmly in the face of moral decay. Many simply adopt the values
of the secular society in which they live. Vision for and experience of
a full Christian life lived in the context of a loving community of
God’s people has, for the most part, been lost by today’s Christians.
A New Society
But, the Lord has not abandoned His
people. He is actively working among Christians to restore among them
the life He came to give. He is looking for men and women to be His
disciples, to proclaim His Gospel, and to build His kingdom. Through the
Holy Spirit, men and women can have a personal experience of God. They
can receive power to dedicate themselves to Him and to live a life that
glorifies Him. They can receive power to respond to the commandment of
Jesus Christ: “that you love one another as I have loved you” (John
One result of this renewing work of the
Holy Spirit is the rebuilding of Christian community. In community God’s
people share their whole lives with one another in an environment of
love and support: a new society - a new family - in which men, women,
and children live “all out” for Jesus Christ and experience the abundant
life that He came to give.
What is Christian community?
Christian community is created when
people who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ agree to live for
Him and serve Him together. People in community share their talents,
their resources, and their day-to-day lives. They make a stable, often
life-long, commitment to love and serve one another as brothers and
sisters in Christ. They agree to work together in the mission God has
given them to do. Single people, couples, and families find in Christian
community an environment that helps them to grow in Christ and to live
faithfully for Him.
How did the Work of Christ get started?
In the late 1960’s, a movement known as
the Charismatic Renewal began to sweep through Catholic, Protestant, and
Orthodox churches. The Charismatic Renewal helped millions of Christians
have a more personal and vibrant experience of the Holy Spirit. They
began to exercise the spiritual gifts and found new freedom to praise
and worship Jesus Christ.
One of the earliest charismatic prayer
meetings took place in East Lansing, Michigan. Catholic, Protestant, and
Orthodox Christians, many of them students at Michigan State University,
would gather every Wednesday evening to worship God and share the love
He was putting in their hearts for one another. This love continued to
grow and so did a compelling sense of purpose and mission.
In June of 1974, 87 people made an
agreement, a covenant commitment, with one another and with the Lord to
live fully for God as members of the Work of Christ Community.