Cohorts: Growing Deeper Together in Jesus

We all crave true spirituality, a connection to something of real and lasting worth in our everyday lives. We hunger for real community: people who give of themselves to one another with something in common beyond mere interests.

God invites us to find that in life with him and the community of Jesus around his table. He doesn’t ask that we get our lives together before sitting at his table -- he gives us Jesus’ life. He doesn’t demand that we sacrifice enough, do enough good, act out enough penance to make up for how we’ve kicked him to the curb -- he gives us Jesus who sacrificed himself for us.

Say you’ve accepted that invitation (and if not, we hope you will); you may still be asking yourself:

Now what?

There are a lot of answers to that question floating around the Christiansphere, many of which you’ve probably been exposed to and maybe hurt by. Here are a couple:

  • The DIY answer: now that you’ve been saved by Jesus, live up to what you’ve been given. Bootstrap yourself into living in a way that measures up to God’s gift, motivated by perpetually telling yourself how unworthy of it you were and how grateful you ought to be. Having begun by grace, finish by effort, with a helping of shame.

  • The ETA answer: now that you’ve been saved by Jesus, don’t worry about trying to live differently. You’ve been forgiven, and now you can look forward to heaven, ignoring the emptiness of your life, the pain you cause yourself and others by your actions, and that tension you feel between your life and what you profess.

Either answer can lead to a very frustrating life. Each has elements of truth, but they essentially encourage us to begin with the Gospel -- the good news of Jesus reconciling us to God -- but then move on from it to something else at the center of our lives.

But the good news we started with is good news for all of life. Accepting God’s invitation to join him at his table is just the beginning of a lifelong journey, one of truly trusting that we are fully forgiven and accepted by God because he loved us enough to give us Jesus and take our shame. The more we embrace who we are in Jesus, the more we’ll find ourselves transformed:

  • Able to turn away from the destructive places in which we seek comfort, security, and satisfaction, and increasingly find those in God.

  • Liberated from anxious self-preservation to live courageously and selflessly for God and others.

  • Desiring to follow Jesus and be led by him for the sake of having more of his life in our lives.

Hopefully that appeals to your soul’s hunger like it does mine. But how does that deepening of trust in who we are in Jesus happen, practically?

God himself made a way to dwell in us through Jesus; now his Spirit in us keeps drawing us closer by deepening our embrace of the Gospel and empowering our transformation by it. He does not start it then leave the rest to us -- which is incredibly good news for us who are still “prone to wander” toward other, far less satisfying options. But we do need to cooperate with his work in us by putting ourselves in places where he's said his transforming grace tends to flow deepest.

We’re convinced that God’s grace runs deepest when followers of Jesus gather together around time-tested and Bible-encouraged practices. We help each other see what God is saying to us in the Bible and what it means for our lives. We pray together for God to help our lives reflect who we are in Jesus, and pour out gratitude when he does. And we speak truth with love into one another’s lives as we confess sins and fears to each other, encouraging each other to see who we are in Christ, trust that identity more deeply, and live in response to it.

At the Table we’re going to do that by forming groups of three to five men or women from your Community Group called Cohorts who will practice those things in an intentional and guided way. They’ll begin meeting sometime in January so that our first batch of Cohort leaders have the chance to live out these practices and receive training before starting Cohorts in their respective Community Groups. We plan to schedule Cohorts in concert with Community Group events in a way that allows for participation in both, maintains margins in our lives for hospitality to our neighbors, and is frequent enough that deep transformational community can take shape.

We hope this gave you an appetite for growing deeper together in the new life promised in Jesus. If you’re interested in finding out more about Cohorts, we'd love to answer any questions, and we’ll share even more along the way to January. You can also see our Community page for a brief description of Cohorts and how you can be a part of our community now through Community Groups and other events - we'd love to get to know you!