What is a disciple?
A disciple is someone who is with Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and is on mission with Jesus. Jesus tells us everything we need to know about what a disciple is, and he does it in his very first act of ministry. He found some fishermen named Simon (who was called Peter) and Andrew and called them to himself. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus says: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” His first words to them were, “follow me.” Jesus called them to be “with” him. Jesus knew the thing they needed most was simply to know him. Then Jesus says, “and I will make you…”. When someone is with Jesus they can’t help but be changed by him. This begs the question: What is he changing them into? He is changing them into fishers of men who will be on “mission” with Jesus. He took their identity and what they knew, fishing, and gave them a new identity. They were now to fish for men! The last beautiful thing we see in this verse is that Jesus didn’t call them to follow him individually, he called these disciples to a community. He called them into a community with himself, and with eleven other men who were one day going to change the world!
So, what does this mean for us? What does it mean to be with Jesus? Well, just like the disciples, Jesus wants every disciple to spend time with him. We primarily do this through his Word, prayer, and community with other believers. When someone spends time with Jesus they will be changed by him. Their sinful heart will be made more into the likeness of Christ. And ultimately, they will start to see themselves as Christ does, as one who is on mission with Jesus.
Why community matters
At Mercy Church, we believe that discipleship happens best in community. In describing what would become the early church Jesus says this: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love is what Christ says should mark the church. Loving one another displays the gospel and causes us to grow as disciples. And this love is best displayed in relationship, in community.
Throughout Scripture, there is no such thing as a Christian in isolation; believers are instead always in a community together. Jesus didn’t just model how to be a witness for the gospel, he also modeled “withness”. He taught us the importance of being with each other. By the way Jesus lived his life, he modeled for us how we are to love one another, be committed to one another, and challenge one another. In the same way, Mercy Church wants to help people gather into community. We are not a church who has community groups; we are a church made up of community groups.
What to Expect
Community groups are smaller gatherings of the people of Mercy Church, consisting of people of all ages. Groups are geographically based, organized according to where people live to help facilitate true ongoing community. Each group meets one night per week to study the Bible, pray for each other and encourage each other in their walks with Christ. And, like any family, these groups also care for one another throughout the week.