We had the opportunity to co-host, with The River, Kent and Karla Denlinger for a conference entitled, “True Community:  Living Below the Surface.”  It was a great weekend!  Below are links for each session with a session description.

Session 1
Moving beyond Pretense & Denial (to authenticity and truth-telling): We would look at Acts 5 to consider how at the time when God was establishing the church, what threatened its health was pretense.  God’s Spirit seeks to work with us where we are not where we wish we were or think we should be.  Pretense and denial end up creating two inhibitors to community, namely competition and comparison.

Session 2
Understanding the Larger Story: The focus here would be on recognizing what God is moving us toward because of what it means to be an image-bearer and what Satan entices us toward.  We want to recognize the powerful pull of individualism and how it keeps us hidden and unaware of ourselves.  We would consider the idea that community involves not only growing in our knowledge of God but also in our knowledge of ourselves and that happens best together in community, though it is messy and difficult.

Session 3
Recognizing an Essential Element: Thirst.  The job of the community of God’s people is to help people recognize and properly identify one’s thirst as being for God.  This is not something that is satiated in this life, though there are times that God meets us.  Rather, it is to be seen and held up as a beacon leading us home, a ticket, if you will, into heaven. In exploring our thirst, it is essential to recognize that in our pursuit of satisfaction, we pursue wrong paths in order to satisfy this thirst.  Seeing this helps us move into the deeper part of our hearts where the life of God yearns for release.  At our center, as redeemed image-bearers, we are not primarily sinners, though we are, but rather we are lovers of God and lovers of others.  This is what community envisions for a person.

Session 4
Session 4 was a mix of thoughts from Kent and Karla and Q & A.
An Irresistible Invitation: The focus here is on two words that bring God great delight:  patience and endurance. The Apostle Paul prays that we as believers might possess these two critical qualifies in our faith pilgrimage.  Why?  The Apostle John extends to us an invitation to join him in patient endurance.  Let’s explore these two ideas and why they might be central to the faith experience and how they reflect something of God to one another.