“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:8-12
I have heard sermons and songs about the “greatest among you being the servant of all,” but I have never heard a single sermon on the command about letting go of titles. Not saying there’s not one out there, but this verse has actually been so transformative to me that if you were to ask me my leadership philosophy for the church, I would quote this verse first. Why have we not obeyed Jesus in this? It’s not just that it’s counter-cultural for Euro-American societies, it’s also completely counter-intuitive. It seems inefficient to perceive a community as growing together side by side. Who will make the decisions to move things along? Should we not consider some people as “higher” or “honorable” because they are better educated, better qualified, have worked their way up, or deserve it solely because of age and rank? After all, our whole lives are based on being under authority, of bosses, or parents, or governments, and Jesus supports our obedience to authority as long as it does not conflict with obedience to the Father. As products of the industrial revolution we have a mentality largely based on the ideals of efficiency, productivity, individual ingenuity, and top-down authority. But here Jesus takes those positions that one might aspire to, or strive to be able to reach (teacher, father), and He says, no titles. You must all come to ME as your one teacher, your one Father. And you must come to me together.
He calls us to side-by-side discipleship. Sibling discipleship. This is a mutual love that says, “I will not demand your respect. I will allow it to be a gift.” and “I will not give my respect out of obligation, but because I love you.”
Surprisingly, most people are not comfortable with side-by-side discipleship. This is because they are used to a church organizational model of discipleship and power based on top-down authority, corporate/business models. Like this–
Notice the similarities to this…
But Jesus taught a leadership model that was very different. There is no man at the top. God is the top. He leads us. We know what He wants because of His word. He sent Jesus to branch out to build His temple by living in us, through the Holy Spirit, both individually and corporately. I’ve written about Jesus as the branch here, so I won’t focus too much on that, except to say that this is how God chose to build His church. So we purpose to live accordingly. Now what does that mean for our concept of church leadership? Let’s look at a branch.
Notice it grows up and out. Growing up refers to the fact that just as branches are drawn to the sun, we are drawn upward together to reach our fullness in Christ.
But Jesus, He is the seed. He is the shoot of Jesse. He is the main branch, the trunk, the vine. We, our church communities and the individuals therein, are the branches of the vine in this metaphor, and Jesus moves His life through us, expanding in us and moving us toward his concept of fullness, like a branch grows to make a tree full and fruitful. Let’s turn the top down model on it’s side. Literally. So we can start to think of ourselves more like this.
In other words, one may have been a part of the branch earlier in the development of the branch but is no less at the top than the other. You are a part of one another, on the same level, moving in the same direction. This is side-by-side discipleship and it’s not as unnatural as it feels at first. When it works, it’s the most life-giving thing in the world. It’s just that most people don’t get it or they’re too prideful, doubtful, or afraid to try it. Chaos would ensue if you let God lead, right?! And how would we know what He wants? We would all have to love His word (Psalm 119) and eagerly desire the prophetic gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1) and be committed to one another in love to reach the unity of the Spirit.
And most churches are completely untrained in this. House church systems, which I have talked about as well, are not exempt from the temptations of top-down organization and structure. The tendency when things feel out of hand or something difficult needs to be handled is to take control of the situation–to manage it. And if that is not done efficiently and to certain personal expectations/preferences, well you have “poor leadership.” And the tendency when there is a disagreement in a church is to go to the one “in authority” to give a ruling rather than coming together in unity according to how the Holy Spirit leads us in accordance with the Word of God given in Scripture. Now let’s unpack this commandment of Jesus.
“Father or Mother” vs “Brother or Sister”?
A father and mother have God-given authority over you because they are responsible for you as a child. You are under their care and then, as you marry, you leave their care and are under the care of your spouse, forming a new family extension of the old. We honor our fathers and mothers both naturally and in the faith because we love them and God tells us to, but also so that we will be blessed with a long life and to a thousand generations! But our humanity means we also tend to idolize those we honor. If our honor and obedience to a person is connected to their title and position or legalistic rule-following, rather than our genuine love for God and others, then we have missed the boat. Similarly, if the authority you have over another believer is simply due to your title or age, then you are not obeying Christ.
But if we are all brothers and sisters, we have a problem. How will we choose one person qualified to make the decisions or lead? Well, you don’t. You have a team of different gifted people called elders who function as a team (or body) to pray and discern in the Spirit how God is leading the community. The older ones IN THE FAITH have more responsibility than the younger because they need to warn, they have more time dealing with sin, they have experienced the grace of God in enduring the cross and its shame, they have fought temptation with success. That’s why it is elders who are called upon to help their bodies function well (Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5). They simply were part of the branch earlier on and they continue to meet the qualifications of elders in their moral behavior. They have the experience, the time, the love for the family of God, an understanding of the community’s culture, the exposure to the elements. But they are still JUST part of the branch, just brothers and sisters in this journey. And they are often not at the forefront of activity or fruitfulness. The younger ones are. Why is this important? Because as soon as a person comes to trust Jesus for forgiveness and is filled with the Holy Spirit, they are to start making disciples, teaching what they are taught by the the elders in the faith, to neighbors and nations, in obedience to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).
If you are young in age, fan into flame the gift of God! How is God calling you to step up and shepherd, teach, or prophesy alongside the older ones? Stop waiting for an invitation. Stop waiting for a platform. You have permission to speak, to speak according to the leadership of the Spirit in your life. Come on and let’s hear what God is teaching you. It’s safe. We will hold one another accountable. If you have the Holy Spirit and a Bible, I want to hear it. If you are worried your theology is shaky, invite a mature believer to listen to what you have to say first and test it. Then SPEAK LIFE to this sleeping giant we call the church. Wake us up! You do not need a platform. Just start discipling everyone! Let’s gooooo new little branches, soon to be full of fruit! Fear and insecurity have no place in love.
Releasing one another from the titles of Father/Mother in the faith releases us to love one another and respect each other without patriarchal/matriarchal authority, power, or pride being the reason. You may consider someone as a father or mother based on the fact that you came into Christ through them, but their message was nothing unique to them; it was simply Christ’s message. No one is of YOUR spiritual lineage. You may see someone as a father or mother because they cared for you or discipled you, and in a sense, like Paul tells Timothy, there is a parent-like role there, but at the end of the day, it is mutuality. Even-standing. You are still simply brother or sisters and you must discipline your heart to see one another as such. You are not to call one another by those titles and you are to try to see one another as a sister or brother, because it is dangerous to both be on a pedestal and to put others on a pedestal. You are capable of discipling those older than you the way they discipled you as long as you are in Christ. You need no other status or qualification but the Holy Spirit and a love for and continued hunger for rightly dividing the Word of truth. It’s one message. One Word. One Christ. One Spirit. One body moving together.
Teacher/Instructor/Mentor vs. Brother/Sister
Similarly, Jesus also said not to call anyone Rabbi (a spiritual teacher/mentor/guru) or Instructor. Instead, Jesus was to be considered our teacher through the Holy Spirit in prophecy and by being led through the scriptures, exploring them together in community as equally-paced learners, yoked together. That means the older ones who know how to walk by the Spirit set the pace in community gatherings, and the new ones catch on, learning quickly and willingly to move by the Spirit, in deference to one another, out of love for God and one another. We are yoked together with Christ as one.
Think of the difference in teaching or advising your brother or sister about something as opposed to being taught by or teaching like a teacher or instructor. In a healthy sibling relationship you teach from a place of empathy. There is a sense of, “I’ve been there–let me tell you from my own experience.” There is a sense of “I am with you in this and I will be by your side until we get through this together.” You are not a guru who has all the answers as people thought of the rabbis. No one sits at your feet to take on YOUR yoke of discipleship. No one is of YOUR spiritual version or intellectual lineage. We are all simply teaching the message of Christ. We are all under His direct yoke. We need no mediators to get to Him. You are also not simply a teacher who has students who pass through unattached to you. You are laying that down and doing life with these people as brothers and sisters. On the flip side of this, you are not a student who passes through a classroom taking in information and moving on with your life. You are transformed by relationship. Both of you mutually. In the same way as you can have a role of spiritual fatherhood or motherhood, someone can have the gifting and role of teaching, but still, at the core, we consider one another brothers and sister, so we do not call one another teacher or instructor.
Not calling one another teacher/guru/instructor releases us to love one another and respect each other without institutional or intellectual authority, power, or pride/insecurity being an issue. It keeps us humble and aware of the danger of these power dynamics if not kept in check. It also allows us all to wear the responsibility of discipling others and building them up, not relying on only a few “well-educated” people to teach or disciple.
So since it is dangerous to both be on a pedestal and to put others on a pedestal, who do you need to take down off a pedestal? Who have you been idolizing as a spiritual father or mother or spiritual leader? How has that been putting undue pressure on that person or your relationship. On the other hand, how have you put yourself in these positions in peoples’ lives either intentionally or not? What needs to be undone, clarified, restructured, renegotiated in your spiritual relationships with people?
Side By Side Discipleship: Mutuality, Empathy, and Belonging
Obeying Christ by following these commands leads us to mutuality, belonging, and empathy. Mutuality means that our devotion to Christ is what links us together and makes us family. Blood (the community of faith) is thicker than water (of natural birth). Mutuality means that we minister to one another as we would minister to Jesus. It means that you are not always simply a recipient of my teaching and sacrifice and I am not always the giver of teaching and sacrifice. I am not always the recipient of your sacrifice and teaching and you are not always the giver of sacrifice and teaching. Rather, we sacrifice for one another, serve one another, and love one another in the gifts God has given us, none more special than the other, all equally necessary and vital to the life of the body.
I can also relate genuinely to you from a place of compassion. I can be empathetic. Empathy is the ability to relate to someone and participate in their suffering by listening with love and then together going to prayer and God’s word for healing. Empathy does not see the person as a problem, or as a patient. It sees them as a part of our own body, a family member that I love. It gives space to emotion and also calls for return to truth. Empathy and truth are beautiful together. It is not like when you empathize with someone you simply give them space to talk. That’s a part of it, but empathy also says, “if I were in your shoes I would need Jesus right now.” And you take them to the Lord in prayer.
Empathy is only possible when you are not overwhelmed by hundreds of people. You will become numb and deaf; a problem solver with no personal investment. But in real Christian community we are a body, your pain is my pain, your struggle is my struggle. We fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens and loving fiercely, the way we were loved by Jesus. Empathy is when we consider others as “belonging” to us in community; it allows relationship between generations (both natural and spiritual) without looking down at the younger as lesser-than or lower-than.
“Side-by-side discipleship” is something most of us have not seen modeled in leadership. It’s not even an official term. As one of my friends asked me the other day, “How do we become the leaders we never had?”
There is a meekness here that does not pretend to be better or more intelligent than the other, because we remember our own struggle and our own rescue. There is a grace in calling the brother or sister to follow Jesus in unyielding faithfulness, in mutually desired accountability, in mutual embrace, welcoming them close to cry, to laugh, to eat, to worship and pray together. This is mutuality. This is belonging. It says,
“My home is always open to you. My house is your house. Come and go as family. You belong to me and I belong to you in covenant with Jesus. And I will hold you in love to your covenant you made with Him. I will show you empathy but I will also not ignore your sin, and you should do the same for me. I will not be satisfied with your enslavement to addictions and lies of the enemy but I will fight for and beside you in the Spirit. I will try my best to go after you if you go missing, literally, or spiritually.”
Belonging to one another is what it means to be brothers and sisters. It is a deep, intentional knowing of one another through doing life together in a lifestyle of prayer and discipleship–praying for and listening to God on one another’s behalf and speaking the truth in love. You know all my good and bad traits. You might know my past sin, my past and current temptations. You know what I am good at and horrible at. You know how to push my buttons. Being known is scary, but trusting, Godly sibling relationships are not. They have this deep empathetic quality that comes from really knowing one another and loving one another anyway, which leads one another to healing, salvation, renouncing sin, mutual love, and belonging.
Isn’t this what we long for in Christian community? Is this what we have? What keeps us from it? It is sin and pride and rebellion and maybe apathy or ignorance, and definitely Satan. Who among us teaches this radical kind of obedience, not in the letter of the law, but in the Spirit of the law? Jesus intended us to obey His commands fully, and at the heart level.
What Obedience Looks Like
(These are not how-tos or laws, but descriptions of what this might look and feel like when it’s working):
Mutual Humility is where EVERYONE goes lower and deeper into humility so we see a loss of titles and human honorifics. Leaders need to be able to lead like Moses, the most humble man on earth, who was a leader- not by being a a political genius, a military leader, or a spiritual guru, but who was a simple man who knew His own weakness, who knew the power and purposes of God, and who found that out by coming into consistent fellowship with the Lord in the Tent of Meeting. He led by seeking the face of God in His presence. How much better if we come into God’s presence together. No pride or hatred can stand in the presence of God.
Mutual humility says, “As a spiritual mother, I am your sister. As a spiritual father, I am your brother. I am not your spiritual teacher or guru, I am your sister. Call me simply, by my given name. I don’t need a title in order to feel respected because you do respect me. You do not need a title from me because you will know by my words and actions that I respect you and honor you. I do not seek to be honored above you. I consider you more often than I consider myself, and I consider you worthy of my attention and God’s gifts, I think of you as higher than I am. This is not a competition. I do not seek a higher position than wiping Jesus’ feet with my hair and wiping yours with a towel.”
Mutual service in humility says, “We serve this community as a team. We help make sure the people practicing hospitality by hosting community/prayer/worship gatherings and those in need are covered and we don’t leave them to handle things alone. We help those who need help. We look for those who may be lonely and ask God to show us how He wants to “set them in families.” We solve problems through prayer, not debate or votes, and not on the basis of one person in power making the final decision. We pray until we are unified in the decision. All who are in Christ have God as our teacher and Father, and He does not show favoritism. All are qualified to speak. We are not complete without you being with us in communion. We notice when you are not here. We are not complete without your spiritual gifts at the table, though we will not use you or view you as a commodity. You are a treasure to us, just you, as you are, even without your gifts; a much needed part of the body, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit and moving in obedience to Christ. You matter to me personally and collectively.”
Mutual Love is continued between brothers and sisters who submit to one another willingly and serve joyfully, giving not out of compulsion but out of joy, cheerfully. We try to show one another love in ways that are meaningful. We check on one another, give to one another, and serve one another too—and we tell one another if we think this is ever out of balance, where one is expecting too much or not reciprocating. We don’t wait to be checked on just to see if someone will. If we need something or miss one another, we reach out, trusting the bond of love that we have and knowing people cannot read our minds. We invite one another into our homes and real life even if it’s hard or uncomfortable to do so, and we look for ways to include one another. We pray for one another, giving quality time to pray for each person, not just when there is a crisis. Not all problems carry the same weight, but each heart is important, even in their (relatively) small concerns. We love sincerely, from the heart, and without fear of rejection. We are one in covenant with Jesus and this bond of the body is unbreakable because we are in Him. Your heart matters to me.
Mutual Respect is shared between sub-cultural groups of different ethnicities, ages, affinities, political persuasions, wealth classes, social classes, educational backgrounds, or regional origins. We listen thoughtfully and engagingly and actually take time to process what one another says (show respect in culturally appropriate ways, for example, remembering the plans we make, trying to be on time in time-oriented cultures, being thoughtful for one another’s feelings and preferences when possible, not interrupting in cultures where this is important). We won’t assume we are obligated to always help each other or be immediately available—God may have tasked us to other things in that moment or we may have prior obligations that He is saying to follow through with. We encourage bravery and space for the younger to teach and train the older without fear, even if pride wells up in the older one for being corrected by a younger brother or sister, and even if fear wells up in the younger one for confronting an elder. Push through it and obey God in saying what the Holy Spirit is telling you to say. Mutual respect says “your perspective matters to me and we will resolve this in love and prayer.” Our relationship is not fragile.
Mutual Desire for Accountability means you all agree that you want to grow spiritually and you will yield in love to the truth of God’s word in correction. It says, “You will find me a true friend who is impartial and sincere and is willing to tell you the truth about your sin (gently, ideally), even if it hurts your feelings.” More than that, it says, “I expect accountability. If you don’t point out my sin to me, and I remain unaware of it, you are doing me a disservice.”
We listen to the Lord alongside and on behalf of one another in intercession. We share what we see or hear from the Lord (as He leads), as good correction and encouragement without doubting our love for one another or our high opinion of one another as a person and child of God. Our relationship is to be Spirit-led, not based on appearances, but on the heart. We keep one another accountable at the heart level and the behavioral level. We agree that repentance is not just confessing that you are disobeying the Word of God, but it is changing your heart and behavior to align with God’s Word and His heart (the Spirit of the law, the law of the Spirit). We are patient with one another, but not patient with sin. We encourage repentance and righteous living fervently. We listen for what God has for one another as we pray for each other. We are careful not to judge one another but only say what the Lord is saying when correcting. We try to communicate gently, with humility, but also leave room for emotions. We try to be gentle and kind with one another. Mutual desire for accountability says, “Because we are one in Christ, please pay attention to my life and tell me if you see anything that is not like Christ. In return, I will also pay attention to your life and gently warn you if I see a sin pattern, not so I can judge you (that is not my job), but because I love you and I will not see you shrink back and become a slave to sin again on my watch. Your obedience matters to me. We mutually agree not to teach or lead while unrepentant. And we give one another permission to urge one another toward quick, full repentance and right standing with God.
Mutual trust. This means that I am going to take you at your word. Your yes is yes, your no is no. (Matthew 5:37). I can trust you to be honest with me and defend me against slander, gossip, and against the enemy (Satan). I will be honest with you and defend you against slander, gossip, and against the enemy. We don’t entertain gossip about one another in the community. We don’t “process” our hurt feelings with others in a way that could lead to disunity but go directly to the person to discuss the issue. We forgive before we confront. If we do not understand, we ask for clarity. We try to not debate through issues. We pray instead, even if it is awkward to do so. When we share personal, sensitive information we will ask one another before we share it with others unless prayerfully considered. We take responsibility for our own emotions—we process our own stuff with God but tell each other if we feel stuck. Then we go to prayer ASAP. We tell one another if trust has been broken and we make it right. Mutual trust says “our relationship matters to me.” Which leads to…
Mutual forgiveness without mandating apologies or special treatment due to position. You will be hurt by your brothers and sisters. But as equal recipients of the grace of God, we will train ourselves to release those who hurt us from our judgment, separating the faithful wounds of a friend from unrighteous hurt, knowing Jesus has paid for their sin against us. This means we may get an apology and we may not, but it doesn’t matter to us. We have already forgiven. If we are unable to honestly let it go, then we address it quickly and to the point. We process our complaints with God in prayer first, forgive ahead of time, and ask Him how to reconcile/move forward. Most of the time this takes care of the issue. If we still need help understanding why someone did something or need to ask them to stop a certain behavior, we go to the person directly and quickly. We do not draw things out. We are honest with one another by expressing your concern in a culturally appropriate way, trying to be gentle.
“When you did this _________, it made me feel this way ________”
“Help me understand this situation because I understood it this way.”
Then we must let it go. Love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). I learned this from a pastor who I greatly admire who is a master of conflict resolution (though he’s too humble to admit this). In his opinion, if we are not unified, we are in sin. Unity has to be that important to us. We keep “short accounts” with one another so we never become bitter or hold grudges. We do not let the sun go down on our anger. We agree to yield to biblical truth and make every effort to keep the bond of peace. Mutual forgiveness says, “Our relationship matters to me.”
Mutual Waiting for One Another. Move together. Though the American church is still largely individualistic in our approach to spiritual growth, we look for examples from other communities that have solidarity as an ideal, that know how to walk together. This may mean ministry plans go slower or even backpedal for a while because God is refining your team to truly love Him and one another in unity of the Spirit. We pay attention to people’s hearts and do not simply use them as commodities for ministry. If they are not ok, it’s ok to take a break. We follow up with them and offer to pray with them, especially if they are stepping away to heal or learning to fight sin. We find out what they need and try to help them, not to rush them along, but to make sure they are living completely free. We are mutually responsible for one another, not for one another’s behavior or emotions, which would make you a scapegoat with a martyr syndrome, but responsible for the care of one another. We make sure no one is falling between the cracks and ask God to bring to mind those who need special attention in each season. Mutual waiting says, “Our coordination and health as a body matters to me.”
“In [Jesus] the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21-22
Regarding Communion: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, when you gather for the Lord’s Supper, wait for each other. 1 Corinthians 11:33
We emphasize and teach this command of Jesus intentionally as a principle to both new and old members of our communities. We encourage one another to “Consider one-another as brothers/sisters” (as someone committed to walk with you but also in process alongside you, each with our own issues—we don’t put one another on a pedestal. We especially encourage this command when we hurt and disappoint one another) so that we can be patient with one-another’s shortcomings. This is a two-way relationship (we minister to each other, teach each other, fill in each other’s gaps). Remember we want to resist the human tendency toward efficiency, speed of growth, and controlling/manipulative leadership. The model of the branch is that it moves slowly but surely, genuinely, and honestly joined together toward maturity. Which leads us to a final point…pruning.
Mutual View of Pruning as Empathy. It may be difficult in our day of tolerance to imagine bold correction in the church without associating it with bad stereotypes of all we do not wish to be (judgmental, harshness, uninviting, and uncaring), but the Bible clearly teaches us to discern and discipline those who persist in false teaching or sinful and immoral behavior. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in Life Together, “Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.”
If a person has sinned and is not repentant, according to the teachings of Jesus, you need to warn them personally. If unrepentant, then bring it before the church elders in a modest way, and if it is still an issue, you need to prune them from the community, and hope that they will return. Sometimes decisions will need to be made about church discipline–but this is not slander, but can become that if not handled carefully. Be patient with one another. Those in the community that brought the warning and brought it to the church and those who did the pruning will stay soft, forgive, reject bitterness, and prepare their hearts to gently restore them when they return. We agree that pruning happens on the behavioral level of unrepentant sin, not the heart level of temptation. For example, we cannot prune someone for a temptation, but only if that temptation is yielded to and a sinful act is committed and not followed by repentance.
Jesus gave us a picture of a branch being pruned or protecting a batch of flour from yeast that spreads. Sin will infect your community and spread through like wildfire, destroying everyone. So you have to prune the people in your community that are false guides, divisive, or unrepentant or ask God to remove them in His way until they repent and can be restored (1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Titus 3:10, Matthew 18: 15ff, 1 Timothy 1:20, Romans 16:17, Galatians 6:1).
Remember, repentance is not just confessing that you are disobeying the Word of God, but it is changing your heart and behavior to align with God’s heart (the Spirit of the law, the law of the Spirit). In the case of addictions and mental illness, we realize change can be more complicated, but most of the time, it’s not. A truly repentant heart does not make excuses for how hard it is to change behavior, but puts sin to death by the power of the Spirit and real action. It cuts off the hand, which means, whatever makes it possible for you have access to sin, we cut that off (installing an internet filter on our home may be a way to cut off the hand, for example). A repentant person will pursue these avenues of “cutting off” willingly and will desire accountability. They cannot be forced, but should be encouraged to obey God and disciplined appropriately if unwilling to repent. If forced to do this cutting off under duress and compulsion, it is not their free will choosing obedience. It won’t be permanent and could push them further from God. But if the person is unrepentant, allow the Father to prune them in obedience to Christ.
As one last word of encouragement, just in case you think my community is like this now, let me assure you, we are not there yet, and I am the worst offender in many of these areas (not on purpose). But we ARE moving in that direction with hope as many church communities are. It requires a joint commitment to love as brothers and sisters. What that means to you may mean different things, so we need to be careful not to hold people to things which are not in God’s word and are simply personal preferences of how we LIKE to be treated. We do not want to add weight to the easy yoke of Jesus. All we are talking about here is simply brotherly love, which is nothing new in concept to Christians, except you so rarely see it in real life, so I tried to flesh it out for you. If we are all thinking we want this, why not try? Isn’t becoming all God desired for the church to be worth the risk?
I will warn you, the point most people will not want is mutual accountability, and you cannot have true Christian community without voluntary Christian accountability. And as a final warning, it is tempting to become very self-focused as a community and take our attention off of the face of God and the very basic command to love Him and people. Do not become narcissistic and idolize your community. God will not let it stand. Focus outside of yourselves on Christ and the world in need of Him. I’ll leave you with one quote that reminds us of this.
“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer