Brian Kirkland | Groups Pastor
Last summer I traveled to Mexico to spend a week with one of our international partners. Early in my conversations with the locals I was asked about my role in our church, to which I responded in usual course: a word or two about our groups, the different ways we went about creating a culture of community, and why spiritual friendships are important. But as I spoke, I began to realize just how odd and unnecessary my job sounded to them (their polite but somewhat perplexed looks confirmed my suspicions). Everything I was describing – sharing meals, praying for each other, weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those that rejoice – came much more naturally in the villages of Aztec country, and I began to wonder if a time could ever again come when my job would be largely irrelevant in my own neck of the woods.
For most of us in the USA, real community does not come easily. While the average square footage of our homes increases, the number of people we have on hand to call in a crisis continues to decrease. My wife, a clinical counselor, has shared with me numerous times that often times the people she sees don’t need a counselor; they just need a good friend. So why is this so hard for us?
The ancients found their identities collectively, as members of a family, tribe, or clan. The idea of prospering apart from their family and placing individual needs above a relationship was nonsensical. However, in a country founded by rugged individualists, we make our decisions primarily as individual consumers. In many ways this has served us well as a nation, but in a society where freedom and choice are paramount, isolation is a natural byproduct.
In contrast to our propensity to isolate, Scripture teaches us that we were designed for relationships. God said that it is not good for man to be alone (why else would solitary confinement be so torturous to bear?), and that Adam’s ache and desire for lasting relationships was not a result of the Fall, but instead a core attribute of his perfect humanity.
We were meant to know others and be known. Yes, it is scary. The effects of the Fall are very real, and it is a risk to take a step and put yourself out there to another person or group of people. Community is certainly difficult and can be painful at times. But the alternative – an isolated life and a hard heart – is deadly to your soul.
As I mentioned earlier, community doesn’t come nearly as naturally to us as it did to my friends in Mexico. It requires high intentionality and will likely be uncomfortable to some degree. RADIUS wants to help you make people a priority, and a key way we do that is through our group structure. Over the next few weeks in this blog you’ll learn more about the various group opportunities in the Fall. From serving alongside each other in a common cause, studying books of the Bible, playing kickball, going away with others for a weekend, and everything in between, we want to see your soul flourish. So be brave, take a risk, and ask God to show you what your next step toward community looks like.