• Will Spink
    Senior Pastor
  • Wyketa Shipman
    Executive Assistant
  • Ron Clegg
    Associate Pastor, Discipleship
  • Shannon Clark
    Administrative Assistant
  • James Parker
    Chief Musician
  • Peter Render
    Assistant Pastor, Youth/Families
  • Christine Betts
    Assistant Director, Youth/Families
  • Ty Commons
    Youth & Families Intern
  • Kim Delchamps
    Administrative Assistant
  • Derrick Harris
    Assistant Pastor, Shepherding & Young Families
  • Angela Sierk
    Director, Children's Ministry
  • Niña Banta Cash
    Director, Nursery
  • Robert Blevins
    Director, Community Development
  • Janice Crowson
    Director, Facilities/Finance
  • Daniel Brown
    Print & Digital Media Specialist
  • General Contact
    For all other purposes
Contact Us Site Map

Pastor’s Note: Living in Community

You may hear the word “community” at Southwood quite a bit in the coming days – not merely in this issue of Branches. We’re having community breakfasts in August. We’re starting Connect Communities in September. I’ll be preaching about biblical community starting this month. The reason that we’ll be talking about it is because it’s essential: Biblical community is a catalyst for our mission. In other words, God has called us to “Experience and Express Grace,” and biblical community fuels that mission; in fact, we can’t accomplish it effectively without continually fostering true community.

The heart of why Southwood exists as a church is that we have a God who is so unimaginably gracious that to know Him truly through Jesus is to be transformed deeply so that every aspect of our lives is reoriented toward his glory (“Experience Grace”). In particular, this means we live daily in the midst of friends and neighbors who are facing life today and – even more troubling – eternity apart from Christ and who are, like us, suffering under the brokenness, injustice, and self-absorption of the Fall. We believe God has placed us here to be “beggars showing other beggars where to find bread,” to offer a taste of God’s kingdom, to share the good news of God’s amazing grace with everyone around us (“Express Grace”). 

All the ways that a biblical community is a catalyst for this mission will be a conversation in the days ahead. Developing this community, then, is fundamental to our mission. It is certainly not mission drift away from the biblical mandate of outward-facing, self-sacrificing discipleship toward self-focused, feel-good consumerism. God’s Word actually paints biblical community as an essential part of knowing God and making him known to the nations, and that’s the reason we are placing such a high priority on it at Southwood. 
Here are a few windows into what a biblical community is that we will get to explore together in the weeks ahead: A biblical community engages very different people who are united by the gospel when there is often little else that would bring many of them together. A biblical community provides a safe place to struggle with the internal and external challenges of life. A biblical community cares across generations for its oldest and youngest members.

A biblical community gives common purpose to naturally individualistic people. A biblical community values people not merely for what they have accomplished or what they can offer but rather for who they are created to be. A biblical community is primarily a shared admiration society rather than a mutual admiration society (think on that one!). A biblical community eagerly and intentionally welcomes others into the family, especially those who are not welcomed by other communities.

I could keep going, but just writing these descriptions is getting me excited to open God’s Word, talk further together, and pray for God to make Southwood more and more into this kind of community. But perhaps one more thought on community for now: While there is a lot the Bible says about community, biblical community is something that is often better experienced than defined. It is lived practically rather than merely discussed theoretically.

So, my encouragement to each of you as we consider community together this fall is this: Live in community as we discuss community. Don’t do everything at once, but try a small group for the first time. Serve together with Jobs for Life. Grab a friend and come to the Leadership Training Class. Volunteer to love our children, youth, or shut-ins. Check out one of the new Connect Communities as a way to get to know some people or as a way to help others get into relationships you already have and value so much. It’s quite possible you’ll understand true community better in these places than you do in any of my sermons!

Will Spink
Senior Pastor