Feature Article | Community

There are several different meanings to the term “community.” As humans, we define it as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” We find great value in the people around us. God NEVER intended us to live isolated or alone, thus giving us the need and want to live sharing a common interest in Christ.

WHY IS COMMUNITY IMPORTANT?

One of the buzz phrases around the Wesley building is “transformation happens in the context of community”, and it is used to describe one of the best aspects of following Jesus: joining alongside our brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers to grow together in love. And at Wesley, that’s exactly what we believe: community and relationship is where love and love for Christ is born and fostered.

In that community, Christ encourages us as his church to join him in forgiving those who have hurt us, encouraging one another, bearing each other’s burdens, and praying for one another. He commands us to “love one another as [ourselves]”, while learning how to treat our neighbors and even enemies with the same compassion and grace that he himself showed his enemies.

During the days of the early church, consistent Christ-like community was challenging. Therefore, Paul challenged us to develop and edify one another in love.

'Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. ' (Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV)

Paul encourages us to continue having healthy conversations with our friends and family that expose difficult issues in our lives. Community helps us to see below the waterline in someone else’s life, and in our world today that is especially important. Instead of reacting to a difficult circumstance in one’s life with harshness, condemnation, and comparison, community encourages us to love, have compassion for, and build strength for others.

WHERE DOES COMMUNITY HAPPEN AT WESLEY?

Community at Wesley happens in a number of ways. First, Wesley offers the option for “LEAD” and “Grow” tracks, both of which involve you getting a discipler and a discipleship group to be invested in, grow in wisdom, and learn about how to love each other in a Christ-like setting. Grow doesn’t require much of your time, just weekly discipleship and attendance at Wesley services, but your discipler gets to invest their wisdom in you. LEAD, on the other hand, puts you in a specific ministry area with peers that think in a similar way to you. Through LEAD, you meet with your ministry area weekly on top of getting a discipler and discipleship group.

The weekly service is where the magic (Spirit) happens. We meet in the Tate Grand Hall on Wednesday nights at 8 pm. However, we gather earlier for LEAD prayer at 7:15pm to pray for both the service and the students that will be attending. The Wesley gatherings are a place to find sanctuary, hope, and the open arms of both Jesus and Jesus-loving people waiting for you at the top of the stairs.

The Grow track also offers something that the LEAD track doesn’t. Every Wednesday night at 7 pm before Wesley, our discipleship leadership interns meet to have Grow Coffee Hour. This is a time for Grow students to have an opportunity for deeper, more intimate community.

HOW DO I GET PLUGGED INTO COMMUNITY IF I’M NOT PART OF LEAD OR GROW?

One of the best places to “plug-in” at Wesley is if you are a freshman. Wesley’s largest ministry is called Freshley, which is Wesley for freshmen! Many freshmen find lifelong friends in their small groups, which are led by older students of the same gender. Daniel Simmons and the Freshley interns make the Freshley environment as friendly and fun as possible. Additionally, Freshley has the largest mission trip at Wesley, when approximately 200 students go to four different locations in Jamaica. Freshley is on Monday nights in the Wesley Main Chapel at 8 pm.

Some students find the greatest community while involved on a mission trip team. Every year, Wesley sends out multiple mission teams to places including Jamaica, Tanzania, Haiti, Los Angeles, Guatemala, and Israel. Participating on these trips changes the game to help us as students, interns, and directors grow closer to who Jesus is, step further into our identity in Christ, and grow with healthy community around us. Not only does internal growth happen, but external growth in the Kingdom of God happens also. Seeing the life change of someone in another country or city because of the love of Christ can alter the direction of your life in so many ways.

CONCLUSION

In the fifth Harry Potter book, after Harry witnesses the return of Lord Voldemort and the murder of his friend Cedric Diggory, he feels alone and isolated. As he goes throughout that year, people doubt his story and stare at him funny as he walks through the walls of Hogwarts. As Harry sorts through his fear, anger, and doubt, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger (his best friends) support him and have faith that Harry will do the right thing, even when everyone else around him doubts his abilities and strengths. While Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a fictional story, their love and support of each other fulfills the call that God gave to us in our own community: loving each other as ourselves.
 
Author | Brad Schiebel

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