Planting Communities of Grace

Notes from the Dwell UK session by Steve Timmis, 12th July 2008.

Session 4: Planting Communities of Grace

Tuckman identifes 4 stages of development that groups go through as the form

  1. Forming – people are being polite as the new thing starts. They are trying to get to know each other and being deliberately well behaved.
  2. Storming – things start to get rocky. People get real and sometimes fall out as they feel they can be themselves. For some, their securtity is threatened. Others ask for structures to be put in place to hold the thing together
  3. Norming – The group starts to develop its ow culture and begin to see a coherent vision. It feels more real, as friendships have survived the storming phase. Some become resistant to change in this phase so things don’t get difficult again.
  4. Performing – A real sense of mutual dependence. There is shared ownership of the vision. Flexibility, loyalty and affection. The group does what it was formed for.

Question: Is it possible to avoid errors at the storming and norming phase? Timmis suggest we build in grace from the beginning.
1. The need of stand-out godliness (1 Tim 3:1-13)

People who model practical holiness in mudance bits of life – v2-4 contain a very ordinary list of virtues

  • appoint people like that as they model grace.
  • need for hospitality (that is, a love of strangers, of people not necessarily like us)
  • godliness – have nothing to do with bribing, impressing or cajoling God. Godliness is an ordinary life lived with gospel intentions.

2. The Means of Godliness (1 Tim 3:16)

Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:  He appeared in a body,  was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (1 Tim 3:16)

The secret is no longer a mystery (Paul writing against proto-gnosticism)

In the Old Testament, no one really knew how to live a godly life. People couldn’t really get there. The law exposed sin and condemned the sinner. The way was paved for Jesus.

Godliness is a heart issue before it is a behaviour issue. Godly people demonstrate Jesus in their life – they are a lover of God and others (most important commandments). The Mystery of Godliness is not about me, it is all about Jesus.

3. Where the need and means come together (1 Tim 3:15)

if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Tim 3:15)

The Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth – God’s household. This truth is to be proclaimed over and over.

  • the pillar holds the roof. In the temple of Artemis in Ephesus, the marble roof called out to people from afar.
  • the church doesn’t need an ediface like that – the truth is the gospel of grace. This calls out to people.

If we plant communities of grace, we will produce churches and people who emanate grace and draw people to glorify God. It is a family likeness. God should be evident in the godliness of the church.

Tuckman added a 5th stage 10 years later.
Adjourning stage - the group has done what it set out to do. It’s goals are met.
– Each congregation is to adjourn as it plants new congregations with the DNA of grace in the updated context. This starts the cycle again.

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