Life Together: Week Two Study Guide

In this study guide, we dive into what life together in community looks like practically! Watch Pastor Doug Rasku and Kelly Henke discuss key themes and experiences around this topic. Then, check out our discussion prompts and questions to help you learn how to develop authentic relationships, grow in your faith, deal with conflict, and advance the kingdom through healthy Christian community.

 

TALK IT OUT

Below, you’ll find some key discussion points to reflect on and questions to discuss in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, as well as some action points for the week.

Memory Verse of the Week: Colossians 3:12–14 (NIV) 

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Icebreaker: Share your favorite team-up experience—it could be a work project you did together with coworkers, a school group project, something you accomplished as part of a team, etc. What made it so enjoyable? What did you glean and gain from the experience?

Getting the Conversation Going: In the New Testament, the apostle Paul repeatedly refers to the Church, both worldwide and as individual communities of believers, as the “body of Christ.” He says, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4–5 NIV).

This tells us that human flourishing is found in Christian community. It means that in order to function as God intended, in order walk through this life and experience the fullness of all that God has created us for, we must find our identity in Christ, our belonging in the community of believers, and walk in our purpose together.

Now, is this always easy? No. The fact is Christian community is made up of redeemed sinners, imperfect men and women who are living and growing in relationship with Jesus. Sometimes, fellow believers are hard to love and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, sometimes we’re hard to love. And that’s okay! We must abandon this idealized, unrealistic standard of eutopian Christian community where everyone must be perfect this side of heaven or else. Instead, we must embrace the reality that we’re all works in progress that the Lord is conforming into the image of Christ daily, we must seek to grow and go together, and we are to build one another up in compassion, patience, empathy, love and unity.

Those who love their dream of the Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So, what does it take to practically live and thrive in true Christian community?

Here are a few key aspects of healthy Christian community that we must strive for by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit:

  • Healthy Christian community is built on the foundation of love and devotion for Christ (Ephesians 5:21; John 13:34; Romans 12:5).
  • Healthy Christian community starts with mutual trust and commitment (Romans 12:10).
  • Healthy Christian community is free of judgment and condemnation (Galatians 6:2; Romans 2:3, 14:10–13).
  • Healthy Christian community creates space for confession and confrontation (Galatians 6:1; James 5:16–20; Matthew 18:15–17; 2 Timothy 4:2).
  • Healthy Christian community works through conflict (Luke 17:3; Proverbs 15:22; Hebrews 3:12–13, 10:23–25).
  • Healthy Christian community always reaches outside itself (2 Timothy 2:2; Acts 2:1–47; John 20:21–22; Matthew 28:19–20).

Discussion Question 1: What is the key to healthy Christian community? Why is this so important?

Discussion Question 2: How has being part of a Christian community impacted your personal relationship with Jesus and your overall quality of life?

Going Further Together: In Romans 14:19 (NIV), we’re directed to “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Another translation says to do what makes for peace and leads to the building up of one another. According to Blue Letter Bible, the Greek word here, oikodomē, means “the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, and holiness.”

Notice that building up does not happen to yourself and by yourself. The goal here is to build up someone else! And it’s someone else’s job to build you up. That kind of mutual edification and growth (for us as individuals and corporately) must happen in community. The writer of Hebrews has a similar message: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25 NIV).

We ought to be focusing our minds and attention on how to encourage one another towards love and good deeds. This cannot happen if we’re not actively in Christian community! 

Discussion Question 3: What about being in Christian community sparks growth and maturity in your individual walk with Jesus? How have you seen this in your life?

How Christian Community Propels the Church Toward Outward Multiplication: To disciple someone, to raise them up in the faith to become mature believers who experience the “fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 PHILLIPS), is a huge honor, but also a huge responsibility. Much like parenting, it requires a great deal of time, energy, intentionality, devotion, and care. So how do we know the best way to engage in discipleship? The best model is found in the Gospels! There, we see Jesus engage in transformational, life-changing discipleship through community!

In His three years with the disciples, Jesus taught, led, and gave them an example on how to live in relationship with the Lord. They walked, ate, prayed, celebrated, cried, and had fun together. Jesus taught them both practical and spiritual lessons. He empowered them, kept them accountable, and corrected them when they were wrong. He showed them what it meant to love God, to abide in Him, and to follow Him. He prepared them to go into the world and make more disciples as He discipled them. The same call applies to us! We absolutely need discipleship in community to grow and mature as believers, and we must then in turn do the same for others.

Discussion Question 4: Why is it important for Christian community to have both an inward and outward focus? 

Discussion Question 5: In what ways can you be more intentional to contribute to the health of your Christian community and your church?

THIS WEEK

If you’re a part of a Christ-centered community already, spend some more intentional time with them this week for your enjoyment and nourishment! If not, then pray about finding a community that will be beneficial to your faith and overall life. To find your community, visit CalvaryFTL.org/Groups!

A LOOK AHEAD

In our next study, we’ll examine what it means to live out the gospel and live on mission as we seek to reach our community and change our world.

Additional Resources

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.