Our take On Community
The basic idea:
Let’s begin with the gospel narratives. At the outset, Jesus does not call the disciples (Mt 4) and then start meeting with each disciple 1 on 1 one in coffee shops. He doesn’t give them a book list—a curriculum to read and tests to take. He invites them into an apprentice community—where he shows them what it looks like to live in a God saturated world; how to live within the kingdom.
When you look at the story arch of the gospels, you can see this clearly. Jesus models what it looks like to live within the kingdom of God. Then in Mt 10 (Lk 9), he sends the disciples out to do the very things he has done with them! He tells them to proclaim ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons”—all of which Jesus has done (Mt 10:7-8). In community, Jesus forms apprentices and then sends them to practice what he has modeled.
Quite simply, Jesus gathers a bunch of average joes. He calls them into an apprentice community. He teaches them to do what he does. He sends them out to practice—so that one day, they are equipped, and empowered by the Spirit, to change the world.
How we make apprentices?
At Wellspring, we try and follow Jesus' lead. Our approach is to equip people, focusing on our guiding values (apprenticeship, community, spirit attentiveness, scripture, and welcome)--which, we believe, are foundational to the Christian life. To help people inhabit these values in daily life, we have both communal and individual rhythms.
We cultivate these 5 values in our weekly apprentice communities through four practices: inductive study of Jesus’ life (twice a month), listening prayer for one another (once a month), supporting one another in community (between gatherings), and lastly, every fourth week, we would host parties to welcome the outsider (primarily, secular friends and those who are not part of a Jesus-community.) Our hope, again, is to apprentice every community member to lead others into these values—to both help them grow personally and increase the community’s capacity so that we multiply.
Thus, in these communities, discipleship/apprenticeship and leadership development dovetail. As we train people to study the life of Jesus, listen to the Spirit, live in community, and throw parties, we give them the opportunity to lead others into these values and practices. As they become comfortable and competent leaders, our hope is that they would launch new communities to replicate this basic model (with their own personal touches, of course). And, in the end, we want to create basic DNA that is simple and replicable so that we initiate a Jesus movement in the Monterey Peninsula. Big picture, we want to catalyze a movement of multiplying apprentice communities that are guided by the Spirit, shaped by the Scriptures and embody the welcome of God.
Each week, we also invite every community member to attend to what the Spirit is saying to her at some point during the week, bless at least two people (one in the community; one outside church walls), learn from the life of Jesus (taking a moment in the scriptures at least once a week), and eat with two people (one in the community; one outside church walls). We would use the acronym A.B.L.E to help us remember these habits. And then, during our prayer times (see below), we check in about what the Spirit is saying to us, how the life of Jesus is shaping us, and how our blessing and eating is forging community and leading to God’s welcome. For more info on A.B.L.E. check out this PDF.