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Talk

Think about a time when you were part of a team or group that had to achieve a goal together. Could you have accomplished it alone without the rest of the group? What was enjoyable about being part of the group? What was difficult?

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Read alternate story

Read

I was a high school senior when I decided to follow Jesus. A few other people made the same life-changing decision then too, so I spent my whole senior year with some of the best friends I have ever had. We encouraged each other, worshipped together, studied the Bible together, shared both our doubts about God and what we saw Him doing in ourselves. Eventually, that small group of friends grew to over 75 people who hung out together every Friday night. I was involved in something much bigger than myself, and with people who were in the thick of it with me.

But then I moved away for college and had to press pause on those friendships until holiday break. I quickly learned there was a Christian group on campus and thought I’d give it a shot. I also soon realized how demanding my pre-med course load would be—how was I going to manage studying and being involved in extracurriculars? Plus, my tight-knit group of 75 back home was less intimidating compared to this group with 200 strangers.

I debated if starting over in a new group was worth it: Should I just look for a couple close friends instead? Could I be devoted to school and a Christian community at the same time? Did I really need to be part of a community or could I do this Christian thing on my own?

Talk

If you’re currently involved in a Christian community, what do you like about it? If you’re not yet involved, why not?

Context

Acts was written by Luke, who was not a firsthand witness to Jesus’ life, but was a firsthand witness to some of what happened in Acts. Acts could have been written as early as 60 years after Jesus’ resurrection. In this particular passage, Jesus had asked the disciples (about 120 of them) to wait for the promised Holy Spirit to baptize them in power. As the dramatic arrival of the Spirit came upon this small gathering of believers, a huge crowd gathered around and witnessed the impact of the Spirit’s breakthrough in the disciples’ lives. Keep in mind, that this whole scene took place in the very city in which Jesus was crucified. There were probably people in the crowd who had demanded Jesus’ crucifixion. So making a decision to follow Jesus in the very city in which he had been crucified just seven weeks earlier was risky and a stretch.

As the passage begins, Peter had just preached a message that accused the very people who were listening of helping put Jesus—God’s chosen one—to death. The crowd was convicted and asked how they could escape judgment for such a wrong act.

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Take turns reading verses from Acts 2:38-47.

Talk

  1. What would you see, hear, and feel if you had been in the group Peter addressed?
  2. What aspects of this community are especially interesting to you and why?
  3. Verses 38-41 told of the conversion of 3,000 people who then “devoted” themselves to their new community. How did Luke describe their devotion?
  4. Verse 42 talks about devotion. What does devotion require of people?
  5. Imagine you were one of the new believers joining this community. What would be some of the benefits for you personally (spiritually, practically, emotionally, etc.)? What would be some of the challenges?
  6. What does it mean to you that choosing to follow Jesus also means choosing to join a Christian community?

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Read alternate story

Read

I spent most of my first semester half in and half out of the Christian group on campus. I put priority on school, my girlfriend back home, and sports over fellowship gatherings, Bible studies, and retreats.

On one visit home, one of my best Christian friends challenged my thinking about community. “If you have a pile of coals for a BBQ,” he said, “and you light it on fire, and then remove one of the coals, what will happen to that coal you’ve removed and put to the side?” I took the bait and answered, “The coal will burn out.” “Exactly,” he replied, “the coal will burn out, just like your faith will burn out if you drift away from Christian community.”

I knew he was right. I hadn’t been growing in my faith since I had started college. I could tell my passion was growing dim. In high school, being devoted to my Christian community kept the fire of my faith, love and hope burning. Apart from community, I was slowly slipping back into the self-centered life I had lived before becoming a Christian. It was time to jump back into the fire and live for something bigger than myself again!

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Talk

  1. Where has God given you opportunities to be part of a Christian community?
  2. How has God touched your life in a meaningful way through a Christian community? If not, what would you like to experience in community?
  3. What next step can you take to devote yourself to the Christian community God has placed around you?

Bible Studies

Each day this week, read and spend time thinking about the passage. Write down what each passage tells you about the need for and value of Christian community.

Solidarity: John 17:20-26

  1. What does it mean to be “one” with other believers in the way that Jesus is “one” with his Father?

Service: John 13:1-17

  1. What does Jesus’ challenge, to “wash each other’s feet,” teach you about Christian community?
  2. In what way has someone served you this week?
  3. How can you serve someone this week?

Prayer: James 5:13-16

  1. How do we experience forgiveness of our sins uniquely through people in our community?
  2. Have you confessed a sin to anyone in the last week?
  3. Have you asked for prayer from anyone?
  4. Have you prayed for anyone in the last week?

Forgiveness: Matthew 18:20-22

  1. What does this passage teach you about the importance of forgiveness as a part of Christian community?
  2. Is there anyone you need to forgive this week?

Encouragement: Hebrews 10:25

  1. Why does the writer of Hebrews challenge us to not stop meeting together?
  2. Who has given you courage this week (ex. to stand up for Christ, to be honest with a friend about a conflict, to be truthful in a dating relationship)?
  3. To whom could you give courage this week?

Support: Ecclesiastes 4:12

  1. When have you experienced the support of a fellow believer in the last month?
  2. Who is someone you know that is going through a trial in life that you could support with a phone call, email, or visit?

Conflict: Luke 6:41-42

  1. Is there someone in your community or circle of friends that you’ve been in a conflict with?
  2. What does this passage teach you about how to handle conflict with others in Christian community?

Reminder

During the session, you chose a next step to take to devote yourself to the Christian community God has placed around you. What is one way you've followed through on this so far?

Video

God created you for relationship with him and with others. You were not made to make spiritual progress alone. You were designed to need others and be in community.

See video

This clip is taken from the sermon "Jesus' True Family," preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church. Watch the full sermon.

Christians need friends to survive. Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church teaches the importance of friendships to the Christian in this latest installment of Proverbs.

Books

You are part of a community, whether it is in the workplace, a family, a church or a circle of friends. But often these communities fall short. In this study guide, Johnson covers the disciplines of community and submission to help you build true communities with those around you.

The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer. This book gives practical advice on how life together in Christ can be sustained in families and groups. It is bread for all who are hungry for the real life of Christian fellowship.

Smith shows you how to bring spiritual formation and community engagement together. His insight and humility will lead you to live in an authentic community of Christ-followers, shining the light of the Spirit into every relationship.

You were not meant to walk alone. If you long for more of God and deeper friendships, this book will help you on the journey. Move beyond superficial approaches to Christian community to plumb the depths of shared spiritual life.

Audio

In this brief segment, Moore challenges people new to Christianity to get involved in a church and find Christian community.

This short podcast from Desiring God with John Piper talks about the importance of Christian community, encouraging you that other people help you to be more Christlike, and that real trust in Jesus requires others. 

Articles

Kelvin Smith, an InterVarsity alumnus, compels you to get involved in a church while in college. A diverse body of Christ can teach you a lot. You need the church and the church needs you.

This is the story of Megan’s journey to faith through the invitation, love and commitment of a Christian community on campus. Like Megan, many people have similar stories of how they were “wooed” to Jesus through a loving community.

Are you going to church simply because you feel you should? Maybe you don’t go at all anymore, or are just starting to consider going. Church is supposed to be a joyful, meaningful worship experience — but what if your local congregation doesn’t measure up? StudentSoul.org received several interesting responses to this question.