I walked into Burger King the other day and they said they didn’t have any hamburgers. True story. So I left.

If a burger restaurant doesn’t have burgers, you leave.

That makes sense, right?

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I grew up in a church that used Acts 2:42-45 as their mission verse. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.”

I love that verse. What a beautiful thing. Man, I want that. I crave it. I want to live that every day of my life.

Fellowship…all things in common…wonders and signs. I love it.

I grew up in a great church, I’m not picking on it or any other church that uses this as a core verse for what they want to be (and it’s used by many churches).

But I think sometimes we miss a step. Acts doesn’t start in chapter 2. What that verse describes is actually a symptom of something that happened earlier in the story.

There’s no Acts 2:42 without Acts 1:14.

Acts 1:14 tells the story of the apostles, tucked away in the upper room waiting for the Holy Spirit.  It says, “All [the apostles] with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” 

The authentic and rich community of chapter 2 was a symptom of a radical prioritization of the pursuit of God in chapter 1.

The apostles didn’t necessarily start out to create a community. They devoted themselves to prayer, they waited on the Holy Spirit, and community happened.

In our churches and organizations, what happens when the top role of our community is to provide community? What does the community do, you might ask? It provides community.

In prioritizing community, as in close human relationships, something bizarre has happened. We’ve opened a hole in the space-time continuum or something.

Years ago, before I ever did any publishing stuff, I did web marketing—mostly web design. I was approached by this guy who was selling a get-rich quick scheme and he wanted my help.

His scheme was actually pretty ingenious. When you paid the $1,000 to join the plan you got a book which contained a foolproof blueprint for how to get rich. What the book instructed you to do was to charge people $1,000 for a book which would tell them how to get rich… When someone joined under you, they got a book telling them to charge people $1,000 for a book which will tell you how to get rich.

That’s right, the plan sold the plan. There was no other content. He wanted me to help him set up the websites for all the people who joined… all the people who were going to sell the plan for $1,000. (In his scheme, they would also pay for the website.) Strangely, while we were talking, he suddenly disappeared…

If our communities are built solely around community, are we really that different from this enterprising individual?

“Come into our community.” What does the community do? “It provides community.” What for? “So that people can come into our community.” Around and around it goes.

Now I’m not denying that community is vital to what we do as Christians. But it’s not what we seek.

Maybe instead of saying “Community first” we should say “Community second.”

The only community we really want is the one built on seeking Christ together first.

I have a few friends that when we get together, we genuinely pray and worship. Not as part of a curriculum or an organization, it’s just what we’re about. Those are the people I know I can count on. We’re not coming together out of mutual loneliness or an abstract ideal of community, but out of a mutual recognition of what’s most important. And we would die for each other in that.

In any community, the thing we seek together is the thing that holds the community together.

If you join a board game club, board games hold the community together. Your investment is primarily contingent on your satisfaction with the board games. If week after week you don’t enjoy the games, eventually you’ll probably stop showing up.

A community based primarily on providing community is a fragile thing.

As soon as the community stops doing community like you wanted, as soon as you’re not feeling it, why not leave? Just like a burger restaurant that doesn’t have burgers, why wouldn’t you leave? It would be reasonable (wise even!) to leave.

But isn’t our community supposed to be more than that? Almost like a covenant, right? Not to the same degree, but our local church should almost be like a marriage, right? You can’t get rid of me. I can’t get rid of you. If conflict arises, we just have to work it out, there’s no other option.

Now, if we truly seek God together as the basis of our meeting and gathering, then God becomes the thing that holds our relationships together. Like really seeking Him, not just doing Christian-ish things or going through the motions. If that’s the basis of our gathering, of our being a community… well, there’s literally nothing in the universe more permanent, steadfast, and faithful as God.

Here at The Company, we put practically no emphasis on building an engaging community with our apprentices. There are no team building exercises. No mixers. I do make a pretty good common enemy for them 😊, but that’s about it.

Yet I see them behaving as a community. I see that they share their stuff when somebody needs something. I see that they’ll drop everything to help each other if somebody’s sick or their car breaks down. I see them ask for prayer when they’re falling short or feeling sad. Then they do the strangest thing…they really pray (and stuff happens!).

When we’re together, everybody seems really comfortable with one another. Really ready to share their lives together.

I didn’t make any of that happen. I didn’t communicate any rules or expectations. I didn’t hang up any posters about loving people. I didn’t lead a conversation about how to be good neighbors to one another.

The only thing we’ve done is radically prioritize seeking God. Every morning, we spend an hour together in worship, prayer, and prophecy. That’s all.

I’m not saying we have it all figured out or are doing it perfectly, but I think there’s something to this.

If you really want to engage in profound community, then adopt my new motto: Community Second.

Like I talked about last week, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

If we want to see Acts 2:42 community, then it starts with an Acts 1:14 lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, community is one of my highest values. The Church is not the Church without it. I know many local churches do an awesome job of community.

But setting community as the objective itself is the fastest way to something that’s awkward, stilted, fragile, and maybe even manipulative.

Community Second. Because God gets spot number one. And all these other things will be added to you as well.

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