by Peter Swann

There is no secret to it: authentic community is not always easy, but it sure is worth it.

When Hope started, it was our sincere desire to see authentic community become the norm. Raw, candid, honest community, the type that takes courage and intentionality. But it’s not easy to nurture. It takes people who love Jesus more than they love themselves, and people who are willing to be all in.

It also takes covenant. That’s the key to it all. It’s a group of people covenanting together – holding each other accountable, encouraging each other, and hanging in the trenches together. There’s just something different about a community in covenant.

When nurturing an authentic community like that, everyone has to buy in. It never works if only some go for it. Everyone has to be all in… that’s how covenant works, and that’s how authentic community gets built out.

It takes a while to build out that type of community, but I realized how much God has blessed us in this recently. I was hanging with a long-time friend of mine, sharing the deepest struggle of my heart right now. I was wide open on my shortcomings, my fears, and my trials. I badly wanted his prayers and accountability.

My friend turned to me and promised his support, but immediately encouraged me to also share with at least one other guy. He wanted to make sure that I had at least two friends who could journey with me on it. The thought was wise, mature, and godly. It’s exactly what I should have done.

Except, as I reflected on it, I knew I didn't have to find that guy. And that’s because I already had that guy. In fact, I had about fifteen other guys. With our elders, staff, home group leaders, and home group, I was well covered, and phenomenally blessed.

Community like that is a gift. It’s an absolute gift. We cherish that community. We protect that community. We fight for that community.

As everyone gets to know each other, as community goes deeper, that raw, authentic community produces transformation. Discipleship best happens when everything is on the table, and it takes that type of community to get it all on the table. As a rule, the degree to which we are changed will directly correlate to the degree to which we are raw, candid, and honest. So…

There is no secret to it: authentic community isn't always easy, but it sure is worth it.