A Transformed Community

In the post “What Are You Seeking to Produce,” I stated that individual growth was a goal in shepherding/equipping. In addition to this, the second goal is a transformed community.

Corporate Maturity

You can’t think of the Christian life in purely individualistic terms. We are part of a new family and that family is to nurture one another as we all grow up into the likeness of our elder brother, Jesus. Hebrews states explicitly that this kind of growth happens in the context of redemptive, mutually edifying friendships.

Hebrews 3:12-13

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 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.

It is important to stress that this does not happen automatically, nor without a lot of work, and sometimes it can possibly not happen at all.

One final passage that provides a picture of life in the body of Christ is Colossians 3:12-17:

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Here are a few practical questions for reflection:

  • Do I have friends like this in my life?
  •  Am I that kind of friend?
  • Is the church I am part of functioning like this?
  • Does our pastoral staff and leadership resemble this kind of redemptive, mutually-edifying friendship?
  • How can I grow in this way over the coming year?

In Ephesians 4:15-16, the apostle Paul says that when we are living in these kinds of relationships, we will all grow in maturity.

 

Copyright © 2013 Tim Lane. All rights reserved.

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Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at CCEF in Philadelphia, PA (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation). Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches.  For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.