God, our creator has made us to belong - to be valued, loved and accepted. Ideally, we all have places and people to whom we belong - in our families, friendships and communities. The good news in Jesus is that all of us, once far from God can be reconciled with Him and then with one another. We can be adopted into His family, welcomed as His children and know one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
St Nic's is a Christian Community where we aspire to welcome, bless, value and love one another. But like most families and communities, we are not perfect, and we do not always manage to live up to our ideals. What then? This series is written to help explore that question.
Our St Nics' Community is a broad one - it includes people of all ages, stage of faith (including no faith) and backgrounds. People of all races, genders and sexuality are welcome to join us and explore faith in Jesus with us. and with God's help begin to live in step with His word and Spirit. We intend that all who come to St Nics will be blessed and have a sense of belonging. This does mean that not everyone in our community will know and understand what the Bible teaches about how to live and love one another well. This in turn means that things can look and feel very messy at times.
The 'Being Together' document, produced by the Anglican Church in Australia's General Synod, is a description of expectations of behaviour for each other in our Anglican Church community. It is part of our commitment to Safe Church and it is important for us at St Nics to think about these expectations and work out how we live them out. In these studies, we commit to take seriously what scripture says. We will look at what the Bible teaches about living together in community - how we relate, communicate, deal with differences and respond to conflict. Some of us will find it easier than others to do this, depending on our own experiences so far in life - but this is an area where we can all learn and grow.
We want St Nics to be a safe environment for us to practice Godly ways of speaking and listening to each other, especially where there are differences of opinion or conflict that needs resolving. We want to encourage each other to do these things well and to gently challenge each other if necessary. This is new to many of us as we come from cultures that do not necessarily know how to do this well. As we will see, sometimes we have the grace to forebear (for example, if someone inadvertently hurts our feelings), for 'love covers a multitude of sins' (1 Peter 4 v8). At other times, inappropriate behaviour needs to be addressed - and we will learn from Jesus and the early church how to do this well as well as outlining our formal processes under Safe Church.
The studies which follow can be done in small groups or privately at home. It's not necessary to answer all the questions in each study and it's important in a group setting to allow time for questions or discussions that are raised by group members.
We are looking forward to exploring these studies with you to putting our learning into practice for the sake of each other and the glory of God. As always, we are open to feedback, so do let us know how you get on.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Jamie and Verity Murray
Below you can find the links to our recorded teachings from the first time we studied Being Together.
Week 1: A Christian Community
Week 2: Relating To One Another
Week 3: Speaking and Listening
Week 4: Loving Through The Differences
Week 5: Handling Conflict #1
Week 6: Handling Conflict #2