How can we help people in this lifelong journey of trust in Jesus?
At Refuge, we believe that one of the primary ways people begin and grow as followers of Jesus is through relationships.
The following is what we call our 4Cs of discipleship. These are four different relational contexts that Jesus uses to help us increasingly experience the abundant life of loving God and neighbor. Our goal as a church is to see people experience life-change in each of these four important relationships. While not always perfect, they do provide a path or process for someone to continue in their growth as a follower (disciple) of Jesus.
1. Communion (Relational Transformation)
The first C of discipleship is what we call communion. This describes the personal relationship that is available to us when we turn from our sins and turn to Jesus as Savior.
We were made to be in relationship with God. We were made to walk with him, trust him, and live a life that glorifies him. Like fish were made to breath water, we were made to breath in God through His Word and Spirit in the context of his people.
This is a real interpersonal relationship with God the Father through Jesus by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Not an idea but a living Person). This relationship is inherently transformational as we see in the following biblical examples:
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Galatians 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
John 15:4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
The goal of being a disciple is not primarily being like Jesus; it’s about being with Jesus – transformation is the byproduct of abiding in and with Jesus. This relationship with the Father and the Son by the Spirit is life-giving/nourishing. As we learn to trust him and surrender our lives to him, we gradually experience the abundant life of loving God and neighbor –a life of diminished anxiety, fear, and discontentment. Instead, we experience a life that naturally brings about love, joy, peace, patience, etc. All of this is available to us as we experience communion with God – a real life-giving and nourishing relationship with our Creator.
2. Crowds (Saturday/Sunday Gatherings)
The second C of discipleship at Refuge is for crowds. For us, when we think of “crowds” think of a Saturday night or Sunday morning gathering. When most people think of “church” in our culture, they are typically thinking about going to a service where there is a larger crowd. There is a purpose in these larger gatherings. Both the Old Testament and New Testament are filled with examples of how God uses larger gatherings to disciple us.
Several NT examples are the following:
• Matthew 5 and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount
• The feeding of the 5,000
• Acts 2 – After a powerful teaching, Jesus added 3,000 to the church in Jerusalem
This relational context is definitely the one that most churches in the West have spent the most amount of time, energy, and resources on. For most churches, the Sunday morning gathering is the main attraction.
When most people in our culture, think of “church,” they think of getting dressed up and coming to a building. While this is an important part of being the church, it is far from the entirety of what it means to be the church.
Key Purposes: Teach, Equip, and Inspire
3. Community (Home Group)
The third C of discipleship at Refuge is community. One of our core values is growing small while growing big. At Refuge, we accomplish this through Home Groups. We think following Jesus is best accomplished in community. So we are intentional about using homes as the primary place for church to happen. Our Home Groups are a lot like little churches where people share a meal, grow spiritually, care for one another, enjoy being together and live on mission to change their community. It’s easy to get lost in life. It’s even possible to get lost at church. We believe that church should and can feel like family.
Jesus seems to have placed more of an emphasis on smaller groups than the larger public gatherings. His emphasis was on relationships more than an organization. It was in small groups that he taught and modeled, training leaders to do what he did.
It was in smaller groups that Jesus taught the following:
• What true greatness means (Mark 9:35)
• What love looks like (John 13:1-38)
• How to spread the gospel in word and deed (Luke 10)
• When the crowds didn’t understand a parable, he explained it to the disciples (Mark 4:34)
• After the feeding of the 5,000 only the 12 remained (John 6:67)
• After the resurrection, he appeared specifically the 12 before appearing to others (Luke 24:30-36; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
Jesus invited the twelve into a smaller group so that they could become disciples who in turn make more disciples.
Key Purposes: Close and meaningful relationships, support, and mission
Finally, the fourth C of discipleship at Refuge is clusters. At Refuge, our Cluster Groups are really smaller groups of men or women (usually about 2-4 people). This is a relational context where you can let your guard down, be who you really are, and experience the intimacy that comes from an open and deep friendship. These environments are generally less formal.
These times might include…
• Just hanging out
• Service or encouragement
Key Purposes: Intimacy, openness, deep friendships