Created For Community

By: Abbie Hoekstra

What does it mean to have “fellowship” with other people? A great place to look for this is in Acts 2 where Luke describes the early church. His description outlines a community of people who have all devoted their lives to Jesus and representing Him on earth - not just individually but collectively. That looked like worshiping in the temple together, sharing meals, inviting people into their homes, being generous to their community and those in need, praising God, and being marked by their love and kindness for all image bearers. And of course, their fellowship with each other is first rooted in their fellowship (or relationship) with Jesus.

Here at Bay Area we have a value called Better Together. If you look closely at how we describe it and how we demonstrate it, you will see the fellowship model that Luke describes of the early church in Acts 2 (learn more about our values at bayareacc.org/beliefs). Not only do we believe that we were designed by our Creator to be in community (who lives in community Himself with the Son and Holy Spirit), we also hold firm that our personal and collective growth happens best in the context of community. This is true of not just Bay Area, but the entire family of God.

A few Sundays ago after the 9 a.m. gathering I sat down with the missional community (MC) led by Brian and Suzi Hopper here at our Annapolis campus. I had heard stories of the infamous MC - how they were a collection of people who joined a random connect group in an effort to take their next step in community at Bay Area, how they were multigenerational, multiracial, single, married, with kids, without kids, new to faith/church or following Jesus for a long time, and how an 8-week taste of community was simply not enough.

They shared about providential connections stemming from bold steps of faith in attending First Step, of finding shared life experiences through loss or single parenthood, of leaving other churches and toxic environments and finding Bay Area around the same time, and ultimately in following the Lord’s prompting to find community. Their willingness to step into vulnerability has created a safe space for all to share. Their varying experiences, biblical literacy and seasons of life have created immense opportunity for growth.

This community is a picture of what the early church experienced, and ultimately an example of the fellowship we have with Jesus. Jesus offers us authentic, unhindered readiness to hear our cries of hurt and confusion, to guide us on a steady path of redemption that leads to the fullest life we could ever imagine. We can look forward to the day when we will experience relationships that are authentic, generous and secure - where love is no longer tainted with abandonment, betrayal, rejection and even violence, but shared between all humans. And so long as we are here on earth waiting for that day, we get a picture of full life and Jesus’ heart for all people through fellowship with His people.

The more people are drawn into community, the more our picture of heaven on earth grows. This MC doesn’t only meet for a few hours on Wednesday night. They are sitting together on Sundays and texting prayer requests throughout the week and going to birthday parties for the kids in the group and serving God through loving and supporting Afghan refugees and others in our community. Through this they are experiencing the truest form of fellowship and a picture of what is to come.

Andy Stanley says that, “life change happens in circles, not in rows.” You can sit in church every Sunday and never know anything about the people sitting around you. But when you gather together face-to-face, share meals together, be vulnerable with each other, serve together - that’s when the real fellowship starts, that’s where life change happens. When we’re together, big things happen. Each person has a significant part to play and we don’t want anyone to miss out. Growth and fulfillment happen best in the context of community and relationship, just like we see in Acts 2 with the early church. What step might God be calling you to take toward deeper fellowship with Him and other members of His family?