At Christ City Church we have 3 places for people to belong:
We want church life to be more than just a Sunday meeting; we want it to be a community on a mission both on Sundays and also throughout the week. In fact, Sundays are just one expression and gathering of our church community.
So here are four reasons you should join (or start!) a City Group. They fit with our four values: leadership, discipleship, community and mission.
(1) A place to grow
City Groups are a place where you can meet with other believers, study the teaching from Sunday in more detail, talk about how it applies to your life and then pray with one another that God would take the scriptures and write them on our hearts. These smaller contexts to study and apply the Bible are a great place to learn and grow in your knowledge of truth.
City Groups are also a place to exercise your gifts; whether that be hospitality, administration, demonstrating kindness, leading a Bible study, organising a social gathering or countless other opportunities that arise. We learn repeatedly in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4) that God has gifted each of us with spiritual gifts which we are to use to build up the church community. As we use our gifts we not only grow personally but we help others to grow.
So if you want to grow as a Christian, join a City Group.
(2) A place to stop drift
Each of us is prone to drift. We learn that when Adam and Eve sinned against God they did three things; they hid from God, they covered up their nakedness and they started justifying themselves (making excuses). Each of these are ways we drift from God and from community. If you read the story of the Israelites in the Old Testament you see that they were a nation that was prone to drifting – they stopped trusting God’s promises and stopped obeying God’s word and a whole generation died in the desert and never entered the promised land as a result. We are foolish if we think that we are any different.
So what is the antidote to the drift? Intentional community! The book of Hebrews, referencing the story of backsliding in the Old Testament talks a lot about this. In chapter 3:12-13 the writer says,
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
And in chapter 10:23-25 he says,
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 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.
So if you want to avoid drift and being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, join a City Group.
(3) A place to care
My favourite expression which describes city groups comes from Mike Breen, who says that missional communities should be “small enough to care but big enough to dare”. If church is to be a family that looks out for one another then we need a context where we can get to know each other well, share in each other’s joys and struggles, and know that there are people who have ‘got our back’. City Groups are the place where you can get to know a few people well, you can care for those in your group and they can care for you. Whilst we don’t want the groups to become cliquey and hard to join, we do want them to be places where people are known, loved and cared for. This is how the Apostle Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 12:25-26:
So…there should be no division in the body, but… its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
So if you want to care for others and be cared for, join a City Group.
(4) A place to dare
Typically church small groups make the mistake of being inward-looking groups who either (a) just study the Bible or (b) just share how everyone is doing. Whilst both of these things are essential ingredients to City Groups, if they don’t have an outward, missional focus then eventually they become stagnant. So the groups need to be small enough so that everyone feels they belong and are cared for, but they need to be big enough so that they can reach out into Dublin together – whether that be organising a party where everyone’s friends are invited, putting on a community fun day, joining in with and supporting a local event in the city, hosting an Intro Course-style evening or whatever. It seems that Jesus’ mission generally involved eating and drinking with people that were not part of the ‘in crowd’ so that is one thing we want to do. Mike Breen puts it nicely when describing five essential ingredients of missional communities when he says:
Clear mission vision. Who is this Missional Community trying to bring the Kingdom of God to? The most successful Missional Communities have a very clear answer that could only be true of their group.
To help us shape our City Groups around mission, each group will start by using Tim Keller’s Gospel in Life series, which helpfully envisions and equips us to think how we can seek the peace and prosperity of Dublin.
So if you want to see the kingdom of God extended in Dublin and the church make a difference on the ground, join a city group.
We are not prescriptive about what a City Group has to look like or the exact details of how the values are worked out in practice. There can be (and we encourage) great variety within our City Groups so that each group can adapt to different contexts, mission fields and personnel. The bottom line is that we want to create communities of light all over the city of Dublin (and beyond). These communities bring the good news of Jesus to those who don’t know him. They are communities where people are growing in their love for God, each other and the world around them.
So here are my two final thoughts for you.
- Join one – if you are not in a group, have a think about joining one. You don’t need to be a Christian to join a group. If you have questions and want to learn more about what we believe and how it affects everything we do, then please come along, ask your questions and get involved in community life.
- Start one – we need more City Groups, so if you have a passion and a clear missional vision (whether to a geography or demography within the city), speak to Steve or Leanne about it and check out our online resources to help you think about what you could do.
If you have any questions or comments just let us know.