The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren—A Synopsis (continued).
Chapter 19—Cultivating Community (pages 145-151)
Although only the Holy Spirit can establish true community
(fellowship) among a group of local believers, He may only do so with the
cooperation of the believers—a result of their decisions, choices and
commitments. To establish community within any local gathering of
believers requires the following:
This means being absolutely frank (not rude) with another believer. This
involves courage, which is the willingness to act despite of one’s fear of
losing friendship and communion. But it is better to lovingly help another
by pointing out error than to permit a relationship to exist in
superficiality and a false sense of peace.
Unfortunately, there are too many Christians who are afraid to “rock the
boat,” and allow church fellowships to remain dishonest, shallow and
spurious because they are “afraid of conflict.”
Pride, the cardinal sin that caused Satan to fall eternally from God, is
the principal sin that destroys community/fellowship among believers.
Pride will quench (squeeze out) the power of God’s Spirit in the believer’s
Every sin that hinders a Christian’s life starts with pride. It is of
utmost importance that a Christian learns about and practice humility—by
seeing a true picture of one’s inabilities and stature (a product of
learning God’s Word) and by considering others more and self less.
This requires being patient with and respecting the differences and
feelings of others, even those who are irritating. Christians should realize
that often God places infuriating and annoying people in their path in order
to test them and provide them additional paths to spiritual maturity.
Actually, all Christians can be aggravating at times. But it is important
to take time with those who are exasperating, by understanding where they
are coming from and never downplaying their doubts. Openness, which brings
healing, among believers thrives in an atmosphere where everyone knows that
they will not be demeaned for their doubts and fears.
This requires each member of a group to keep any self-admitted fear,
difficulty or weakness within the group. Gossip is the chief enemy of
this most important quality.
True community/fellowship within relationships (two or more) takes
a number of contacts, and takes time. Meeting more often is far better than
meeting less. It requires Christians to give up their independence
for interdependence. But the benefits are manifold when compared to
the costs, and it is the best preparation available for eternity.
It would be exceptional if every church group or class would make a “group
covenant” that includes the nine characteristics of biblical fellowship, as
1. Authenticity (sharing true feelings).
2. Mutuality (encouraging each other).
3. Sympathy (supporting each other).
4. Mercy (forgiving each other).
5. Honesty (speaking truth in love).
6. Humility (admitting one’s weaknesses).
7. Courtesy (respecting each one’s differences).
8. Confidentiality (absence of gossip).
9. Frequency (making meetings a priority).
“Only the Holy Spirit can create real fellowship between believers, but He
cultivates it with the choices and commitments we make.” (pg. 145)
“Most people have no one in their lives who loves them enough to tell them
the truth (even when it’s painful), so they continue in self-destructive ways.”
“Often we know what needs to be said to someone, but our fears prevent
us from saying anything.” (pg. 146)
“Many church fellowships and small groups remain superficial because they are
afraid of conflict.” (pg. 146)
“Real fellowship, whether in a marriage, a friendship, or your church,
depends on frankness.” (pg. 147)
“When conflict is handled correctly, we grow closer to each other by facing
and resolving our differences.” (pg. 147)
“Self-importance, smugness, and stubborn pride destroy fellowship faster than
anything else. Pride builds walls between people; humility builds bridges.”
“Pride blocks God’s grace in our lives . . . The Bible says anytime we are
prideful, we are living in opposition to God!” (pg. 148)
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
“Courtesy is respecting our differences, being considerate of each other’s
feelings, and being patient with people who irritate us.” (pg. 149)
“God put these people [those who have special emotional needs, deep
insecurities, irritating mannerisms, or poor social skills] in our midst for
both their benefit and ours. (pg. 149)
“The truth is we all have quirks and annoying traits.” (pg. 149)
“Only in the safe environment of warm acceptance and trusted confidentiality
will people open up and share their deepest hurts, needs, and mistakes.” (pg.
“God hates gossip, especially when it is thinly disguised as a “prayer
request” for someone else.” (pg. 150)
“Relationships take time. . . . This is why fellowship is so shallow in many
churches; we don’t spend enough time together, and the time we do spend is
usually listening to one person speak.” (pg. 150)
“Community is built not on convenience (‘we’ll get together when I feel like
it’) but on the conviction that I need it for spiritual health.” (pg. 150)
James 3:18; Acts 2:42; Ephesians 4:3; 1 Timothy 3:14, 15; Ephesians 4:15;
Proverbs 24:26; Galatians 6:1, 2; Ephesians 4:25; Proverbs 28:23; Ecclesiastes
8:6; 1 Timothy 5:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 5:3-12; 1 Peter 5:5b; 1 Peter 5:5c; Romans
12:16; Philippians 2:3, 4; Romans 15:2; Titus 3:2; Romans 12:10; Proverbs 16:28;
Titus 3:10; Hebrews 10:25; Acts 2:46.
True community/fellowship is the result of the Holy Spirit working in
the lives of believers in conjunction with their choices and commitments. This
takes courage to abandon the fear of rejection and adopt the principals of
Authenticity, Mutuality, Sympathy, Mercy, Honesty, Humility, Courtesy,
Confidentiality, and Frequency. There is no other way more gratifying
and that will produce eternal rewards.