News and Articles
18 July 2017
I’ve heard stories from many people about what Jesus has done in their lives and how they became His followers. Most of these have something in common: it’s when they experience Christian community.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to us. After all, Jesus said that people would know we are Christians by our love for one another (John 13:35). Loving community is profoundly attractive, because it reflects Jesus.
So why don’t we invite friends who don’t know Jesus to experience Christian community?
Beth Devonish, one of our 2016–17 Transform workers, came to university not knowing Jesus. What follows is her story of encountering Christian community.
What was your first experience of Christian community?
My first experience of Christian community was during my first year of university. I was an innocent, unsuspecting fresher, ready to start the adventure of a lifetime at university, when all of a sudden I was in close contact with Christians (from Southampton University Christian Union — SUCU), probably for the first time in my life. As someone who had no understanding of Christianity or anything even vaguely related to faith, they quickly took me under their wings and showed me what it meant to belong to a community, what being authentic looked like, and that people could believe different things and still be accepted.
Who invited you?
Two of my flatmates at the time initially invited me to join SUCU. A few months later, one of them brought me along to Above Bar Church, where I was quickly welcomed into the church family by the head of student ministry and other members of the student community.
How did it feel? What were your first impressions?
I instantly felt included. I think all it took was a smaller community within the church family to quickly demonstrate to me that church was a place for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, it was overwhelming too – but every new beginning is, as is every new place and experience. My first impressions were of a place where everybody was welcome, despite what they did or didn’t believe.
Do you have suggestions for us when inviting our friends to Christian gatherings?
Just do it. You never know what is going to happen as a result of a single invitation. But because I recognise that that’s a lot easier said than done: be yourself. Just be welcoming and friendly and natural. People will appreciate that.
Share stories of how you’ve found community. People long for authentic community and will quickly want to join if they perceive that one really does exist.
Real Lives: 10–14 October, Above Bar Church
Do be praying for your friends, colleagues, and neighbours that they would come to know Jesus. And let’s invite them to dinner, to a social with our homegroup or missional community, to a church service . . . you name it! And do also pray for boldness, not just in showing them the goodness and truth of Jesus in community, but in sharing it with them as well.
Real Lives will be a great opportunity for everyone to invite friends to hear about Jesus. It’s happening in October 2017. Read more on the Real Lives page »