By Juan Sanchez
Due to the height of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, our state closed many businesses and asked us to stay at home.
I canceled my travel plans for the rest of 2020 and sent our church staff home to work in a safe environment.
It didn’t take long to realize how much I had been missing out as I worked from home and interacted with my family throughout the day. Frankly, I began to enjoy the isolation.
The demands of pastoring a church are constant, weighty, and often discouraging. No one would blame you for wanting to get away for a while. It’s good for you. You need it.
Still, as pastors, we must battle the temptation of isolation. We need community—gospel community. Let me offer four reasons why.
1. God saved us to be a community.
American individualistic consumerism has infiltrated the church. When we begin our gospel presentations with “God has a wonderful plan for your life,” our appeal to faith in Christ focuses on what God can do for you—the individual.
If we’re not careful, much of our preaching and pastoring can reinforce that Jesus is all about you. But when we read Scripture, it’s clear that God’s work, while it includes individual salvation, is cosmic in scope.
God’s eternal plan is to exalt Jesus as King and Lord over all things and to unite all things in Him and under His rule (Ephesians 1:9-10, 19-23). One of the things God is uniting in and under Christ is a fractured humanity.
He’s bringing together Jew and Gentile into one new man, that is, one body—the church (Ephesians 2:11-22).
To be sure, each individual must repent and believe. But what we enter into when we trust in Christ is the people of God, the church of Jesus Christ, the community of saints.
To isolate ourselves from other believers, in general, and from our church members, in particular, is contradictory to what God is doing in Christ to unite a people to Himself.
As we pursue gospel community, we’re fighting against the American individualistic consumerism of our culture and testifying to God’s unifying work in Christ.
2. You need gospel community.
Because God has chosen us out of the world and because we identify with Christ, the world will hate us (John 15:18-21). As members of the community of the heavenly Jerusalem, we’re strangers and aliens in this world (1 Peter 2:10-11).
One of the means God provides for our endurance in this world is the church. We’re to encourage each other and bear one another’s burdens. We’re to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.
We’re to rescue one another when one of our number is tempted to wander away.
Pastor, where are you presently practicing all the “one another” passages of Scripture? You need that kind of gospel community, and your church needs to see faithful models of dependence on gospel community.
3. You grow in gospel community.
Jesus gifted the church with ministers of the Word to equip the church to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).
What is that work? To speak the gospel truth to one another in love, edifying one another until we look more and more like Jesus (Ephesians 4:12-16).
In other words, Jesus’ discipleship strategy for the church is gospel community. You, the pastor (along with other pastors), are to preach and teach the Word.
The church, then, reverberates that Word throughout the membership, helping one another grow.
Pastor, you too need to be built up until you look more like Jesus. Who is helping you follow Jesus that you may look more like Him?
You need to develop personal devotional habits, but remember, Jesus designed our growth to happen in community.
4. Gospel community glorifies God.
God displays His glory and wisdom through the church: the community the gospel creates (Ephesians 3:8-10).
As we live life together as brothers and sisters in unified diversity, encouraging one another and building each other up, we display to the world and to heaven and hell that our God is wise in exalting Christ and uniting us in Christ!
Isolation, on the other hand, displays our selfish protection of privileges, preferences, and comforts.
Pastor, you need to lead the community of faith to encourage one another and be ready to sacrifice their own privileges, preferences, and comforts for the good of the church and the glory of God.
God is greatly glorified when a diversity of people are joined together by the gospel and live together as one.
JUAN SANCHEZ (@manorjuan) is the senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church. His latest book is The Leadership Formula: Develop the Next Generation of Leaders in the Church.