For many years now I have known the value of Christian Community. As an early teenager I can remember vividly the sense of acceptance from people of all ages which I found on a church weekend away when those aged 5 to 95 talked and ate and learned and played together. I remember thinking that if that is a flavour of what heaven is like I wanted it!
My initial studies at Cliff College under Bill Davies enhanced my appreciation of what Christian Community could be – warts and all- even further, for this was a safe environment for people to deal with their issues and let the masks slip off in order to be broken and restored by God for returning to the workplace.
The approach to Christian Community taken by Keith Green and his wife Melody in the early 1970s was a challenge to me as they invited new converts to share their home to be nurtured and encouraged.
My reflections over recent years have led me to believe that holiness is central to the Christian life of discipleship. The accountability found in the old methodist class meetings (surely a deep expression of community) where they indeed confessed their sins and found freedom and encouragement together, is still talked of today but rarely put into practice in the local church. It remains my hope that such a level of Christian discipleship can be found by people today for the value of a trusting community is paramount for people to walk closer to God, and to each other, as they seek to become more like Jesus. My prayer is that the church, in one form or another, will provide the setting for people to experience Christian Community thus moving towards holiness of life, and as a by product providing people with a taste of the fellowship of heaven.
By John Hogarth