By Rick Warren
— March 2, 2009
"… Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind … Love your neighbor as you love yourself" (Luke 10:27 NCV).
If you’re tired of fake fellowship and you’d like to cultivate real friendships inside a loving community, such as a small group, you’ll need to make some tough choices and take some risks.
Christian community takes honesty. Real fellowship depends on frankness. In fact, the tunnel of conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship. Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other.
Christian community takes humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.
Christian community takes courtesy. The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God: we are family.
Christian community takes confidentiality. Only in the safe environment of warm acceptance and trusted confidentiality will people open up and share their deepest hurts, needs, and mistakes. Confidentiality does not mean keeping silent while your brother or sister sins. It means that what is shared in your group needs to stay in your group, and the group needs to deal with it, not gossip to others about it.
Christian community takes frequency. You must have frequent, regular contact with your group in order to build genuine fellowship. Relationships take time.
When you look at the list of characteristics, it becomes obvious why genuine fellowship is so rare. But the benefits of sharing life together far outweigh the costs, and sharing life prepares us for heaven.