Looking at the biographies we have of Jesus’ earthly ministry (referred to as the Gospels), we see an interesting sociological dynamic emerge. Jesus interacts with different sizes of people at different times and for different purposes. We see Jesus proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God to multitudes. We see Jesus being followed by 72 followers and attending parties, weddings, and other social events. Jesus called 12 to be made “apostles.” These 12 were apprentices and followed Jesus around daily. Out of these 12 we also find that Jesus did have 2-3 people that he was closest to (Peter, John, and James).
Looking further back we see this same dynamic at play in ancient Israel with the temple festivals (public), Synagogue (social), Family Devotional Life (personal), and between the husband and wife (intimate). This same dynamic has been at play throughout the history of the church, but within the past couple decades a certain “space” has been neglected and abandoned? Any guess which one? Furthermore, How can these spaces be applied to suburban/rural life in Medina County, Ohio?
At St. George’s we want to live into each of these spaces in an intentional way (see the 4 practices), because each space is conducive for nourishing a certain aspect of being a disciple of Jesus. Each space has its own distinctive values/outcomes:
Celebration Services (Public): Inspiration – Momentum – Preaching
Co-Op Communities (Social): Community – Mission – Training
Core Teams (Private): Support – Challenge – Closeness
Soul Friends (Intimate): Intimacy – Confession – Confidential
Typically, it is the worship service that comes to mind when people say the word, “church.” During celebration services, we gather together as a church (the people not the building) to worship the one who saved us and set us free. At St. George’s, we like to also share Jesus stories (testimony in Christian language): how the Holy Spirit has been active in the co-op communities we do life with. Worship services are a time to celebrate, to remember the story and to tell it well, to be refreshed by the Holy Spirit, to be ministered to, and also to be sent out on mission together.
We live in an age of history that idolizes the concept of an individual. As human beings we were made for relationships that are mutually life-giving and have a focus beyond themselves. Co-Op Communities plan and participate in locally specific missions, care for one another, and share life in an organic and natural rhythm. According to Wikipedia, “cooperatives” or “Co-Ops” historically,
Date back as far as human beings have been organizing for mutual benefit. Tribes were organized as cooperative structures, allocating jobs and resources among each other, only trading with the external communities.
Co-Ops can be gathered around a particular neighborhood or geographic location as well as around a common network or interest. For instance there may be a neighborhood co-op in your development that has a geographic focus, but there may also be a Biking that has a common gathering interest in biking. Co-Ops should be about things you are passionate about and not some artificially inspired group you have to attend. It’s not an addition to your busy schedule, but something that is already built into it that gains a missional focus.
At St. George’s we envision the Lord raising up many Co-Op Communities across Medina County as well as across denominations.
Teams exist to work together to accomplish a common goal. The core of an object is the inmost or essential part of a whole.
At St. George’s, core teams exist as a means where people can receive and give encouragement and accountability as they discern the core issue in their lives. The Core team meetings aren’t a therapy session or a bible study, but revolve around answering two simple (though difficult) questions:
- What is God saying to you (as you worship, pray, read the Bible, spend time with friends, discipline your kids, before you fall asleep, work out, watch TV, etc)?
- What are you going to do in response?
The focus of these gatherings is for people to get at core question that God is asking and helping the person discern possible actions steps in response to it.
Because of the intimate and personal nature of a soul friend, they are not assigned or signed up for. A good example of a soul friend would be the spiritual nakedness and intimacy that may exist between a husband and wife. Soul friends are people who you can trust with your confessions, doubts, and hangups as well as go to for spiritual direction.