Living life together... the Gathered Family at Countryside
God Himself exists in community. As Father, Son and Holy Spirit there is a dance of sorts that takes place within God Himself, a relational dance, a relational community. As people created in the image of God we are also created to exist in community. As believers, as the church, we function as a family and a community. Jesus said to His followers that love for one another is the way others will know we are His disciples. As God's people and as a congregation we live life together as a family, who encourages, prays, supports and equips one another while on the mission of life together. The church is not a building, a meeting, nor a place, but a family.
Countryside is a family of believers, a community, that cares for and sustains itself in Christ. Our sense of belonging is a result of our sharing the same life in Jesus. Jesus has not only brought us together, Jesus is who keeps us together. We work, play, study, pray, laugh, cry and live our lives together.
We don’t make a concerted effort to get people together based on common interests, lifestyle or situation. When we look at the early church we see community as a group of people who responded to Jesus’ invitation: “follow me.” We find community is established not on who they are but who the Lord is in their lives. Some of our main worship gatherings (Sundays and Thursdays) are geared in a way that best enriches and equips adults and teens or children in age-considerate ways. We also value family on a smaller scale and want to enable families to worship together. Several of our gatherings (Father’s House, small group home fellowships, Wednesday Morning Worship) are thoughtfully-led so that it's even more obvious that we all, including children, are the church rather than a partition in the church.
We hope to mature as a family community, and in community — to grow together; we have small home fellowship groups that meet in homes all over
Community has much to do with inviting everyone to the table. In Jesus day the meal with its ‘blessing’ and ‘amen’ was very much a sacred ceremony. We serve a number of family meals over the course of a month at Countryside where everyone is invited to the table. Twice a year the entire family gathers together for Jesus Feasts (and feasts they are!) We also have daily opportunities to meet at the Lord’s Table which is both a picture of, and partaking in, our community, table fellowship, and life in Christ.
And there are always opportunities of warmth and enrichment, recreation and relaxation that are part of the family we enjoy as Countryside. From our annual Family Campout, to our Christmas Eve Family Celebration and more, we are committed to this Jesus community.
John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
1 Corinthians Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Ephesians 4:16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Romans 12:3-5 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.