Communities of Performance Verses Communities of Grace

More from my talk to the Evangelist’s Conference.

Is your community a community of performance or a community of grace? Try these diagnostic tests …

Communities of Performance Communities of Grace
the leaders appear sorted the leaders are vulnerable
the community appears respectable the community is messy
meetings must be a polished performance meetings are just one part of community life
identity is found in ministry identity is found in Christ
failure is devastating failure is disappointing, but not devastating
actions are driven by duty actions are driven by joy
conflict is suppressed or ignored conflict is addressed in the open
the focus is on orthodoxy and behaviour (allowing people to think they’re sorted) the focus is on the affections of the heart (with a strong view of sin and grace)

In performance-oriented churches people pretend to be okay because their standing within the church depends on it. A ‘sorted’ person is seen as the standard or the norm, and anyone who is struggling is seen as sub-standard or sub-Christian. In this kind of environment to acknowledge that you’re struggling with sin is difficult and distressing.

But this is the opposite of grace. Grace acknowledges that we are all sinners, we are all messed up people, all struggling, all doubting at a functional level. But grace also affirms that in Christ we all belong, all make the grade, all are welcome, all are Christians (there are no lesser Christians).

Imagine such a church for a moment. Here is Andrew: he sometimes uses po rn because he struggles to find refuge in God. Here’s Pauline: she sometimes has panic attacks because she struggles to believe in the care of her heavenly Father. Here’s Abdul: he sometimes looses his temper because he struggles to believe that God is in control. Here’s Georgina: she sometimes has bouts of depression because she struggles to believe God’s grace. When they come together they accept one another and celebrate God’s grace towards each other. They rejoice that they are all children of God through the work of Christ. And they remind one another of the truths each of them needs to keep going and to change. It’s a community of grace, a community of hope, a community of change.


9 thoughts on “Communities of Performance Verses Communities of Grace

  1. Pingback: Performance Church or Grace Church? « The Cruciform Life Blog

  2. Great post…

    In imagining a church, I would expect that the same could be written about communities of performance…except, sadly, the bit that comes after “When they come together…”

    Communities of performance= places of DISgrace?

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  7. I cannot think of anything more calculated to help and encourage me at this moment than this little table.

  8. I appreciate the general thrust of your message here but
    you should be very careful about addressing issues such
    as panic attacks unless you’ve done a good amount of research. Panic attacks are often caused by organic changes in a person’s system. Hormonal imbalance or
    post-traumatic stress can cause rapid heartbeat which triggers a panic episode. This has NOTHING to do with a person’s trust in the Lord.

  9. Pingback: Is your community group a community of performance or community of grace? « East Lanier Community Groups

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