the weblog of Alan Knox

Replay: Community and Mission

Posted by on Jul 7, 2012 in community, missional | 4 comments

Replay: Community and Mission

Five years ago, I wrote a post called “Community and Mission” after talking with a friend who was a military chaplain. I loved how this friend described the importance of community to the mission of the military. How much more important is community (real community based on the presence of Jesus Christ among us) to God’s mission in and through his children? Jesus himself said that our unity with one another – which results in community – also affects our mission of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. (See John 17:20-21)


Community and Mission

A few days ago, I spoke with a friend who I had not spoken with in many years. God used him as a mentor for me over ten years ago. Since then, we have both moved several times. When I talked to this friend, I found out that he was working as a chaplain in a branch of the armed forces of the United States. (I prefer to keep this general, so I am going to leave out many of the specifics.) I told him about my interest in the church as a community of people instead of as an organization. I am going to paraphrase his response. I hope this encourages you as much as it did me:

As a chaplain, one of the most important things that I teach people is that this branch of the military is a community. But, we cannot be a community that only knows about one another’s life. We must be a community that is involved in one another’s life. If a fellow service member is struggling or having problems, we cannot let that continue without addressing the problems. The mission of this branch of the military is at stake. We must be willing to get involved in each other’s lives, to help one another through difficult situations, to support each other when needed. If we only know about one another, and know about other people’s problems, and talk about those problems behind their back, then we are setting up our branch of the military for failure. Our mission is of utmost importance, because the safety and freedom of the American people depend upon us carrying out our mission. And, the success of our missions depends on our ability to live as a community with one another.

How much more important is the mission of the church? How much more important is it that the church lives as a community with one another?

I love what he said about the military, community, and mission. And, he is exactly right! The mission of the church – which is God’s mission – is much more important than the mission of the military. The military (or at least this chaplain) understands the importance of community in carrying out its mission. Shouldn’t the church understand that importance even more?

I’m going to repeat what he said to the church: Our mission depends upon us living as community with one another – the kind of community that knows one another and is willing to get involved in one another’s lives so that we can all help one another as we carry out this mission together.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 7-7-2012

    Sakes alive, Alan…you are more “on target” than I have ever seen you. This is groundbreaking and so very needed. When I was a kid in the 50’s, our church grew like crazy. I have been going back in my minds to capture some of the things we were doing. The more I think about it, the more I realize how everyone was on the same page…community. The church was the central focus of our social lives as well as spiritual. We had all things in common because the collective resource was always there when needed. Thanks for reminding me what we had…let us all work together to get it back…

  2. 7-7-2012

    So right. God designed the model of community in families and demonstrated it through the Israelites. Jesus modeled it with his disciples.The church exists for more than one or two hours on Sunday. It exists as a community through-out the week. Ephesians4:32

  3. 7-7-2012


    “Our mission depends upon us living as community with one another – the kind of community that knows one another and is willing to get involved in one another’s lives so that we can all help one another as we carry out this mission together.”

    Until Christians think of themselves as an essential part of a live organism, instead of an insignificant part of an institutional machine,they will never be able to answer the two questions.

    Ecologists use a term “biotic community” which means “a group of interdependent organisms inhabiting the same region and interacting with each other”.

    I love it! That sounds like the Body of Christ!

    We hear a lot about the church as an organism, but don’t properly identify that the organism is an assemblage of INTERDEPENDENT organisms.

    Tradition implies that Christians are independent, autonomous parts of the machine. When speaking organically, the question is left in their minds,”If the church is an organism (one unit), what am I?”

  4. 7-7-2012


    Soon after my comment I read this from T.Austin-Sparks,”The inter-relatedness of the organisms is fundamental to the full expression of life; it is a fact which all living creation declares. The living creation is a vast system of inter-linked lives or functions. It is only through the fulfilment of corporate relations that life can continue and progress; only in this way can the laws of life come to their fullest expression. Life involves relations. Isolation means death, where things are an end in themselves”.