Adam Northcroft
Why church community is needed more than ever

I love this church.

I love the way we are trying to follow Jesus and put him first. I love the way we worship with passion and we hunger for the genuine presence of God rather than merely singing songs. I love the desire to honour and rediscover biblical values and the way we are learning to co-operate with the Holy Spirit and see healing, answers to prayer and other blessings.

I also love that we are giving away the good news about Christ and seeking to be great news for the whole of Sevenoaks and beyond. And I love and appreciate our connection with the New Ground family of churches and the encouragement they bring.

All of these things are so good. However, today I feel particularly grateful for the growing sense of community among us.

It's a sense of care for one another. Of increasing relational warmth and of appreciation for others. This comes not just because of what they can do for us, but because we know them and they are part of the family. And we miss them when they are not around.

We see this sense of community on Sunday mornings when we gather. We see it on Tuesday mornings when mums, dads and newborns come to the Clinic & cafe held here at the Mill Lane Centre. We also see it during our social events [mostly recently the Talent & Take-Away Night. See our Facebook page for more] and monthly lunches. We also see it in our mid-week groups and in the friendships that arise from them.

We eat together, we pray together, we laugh together and sometimes we cry together.

Sure, it's not perfect. It never will be because we're humans and we aren't the finished article. Sometimes people can be inconsiderate and irritating, but as Christians following God when we make mistakes we face them, forgive and learn, and hopefully improve on the way.

Community is such an outstanding and necessary thing. It gives a sense of belonging. A place where people can encourage you, love you and sometimes challenge you.  It is a place where you are needed and where others need you. No wonder Paul told the early Christians to not stop meeting together. We were never designed to be on our own.

At it's heart church community is about God. An understanding that he dwells in and with his people, and that he's at the centre of it all, loving us, doing us good and wanting us to grow and mature.  

Tragically we live at a time when isolation and loneliness are becoming more commonplace in the UK, so I am truely delighted that Hope Church is discovering the very opposite and opening door for others to enjoy as well.

Church community has been at the centre of life in Britain for generations. If you're not part of this and feeling yourself out in the cold, why don't you come in and get warm!