Change is a Community Project

October 20, 2022 | Chad Vinson

The fall season always brings about a feeling of nostalgia for me. The weather begins to cool off and the leaves begin to change colors. It takes me back to my college days on the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Boone is a mountain town located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.

During the fall season people drive from miles and miles away to see one thing… the changing of the leaves! The vibrant colors of the leaves on the trees would always cause a massive amount of traffic as people fought to capture the best view. There is something about seeing something change that creates excitement and energy to both those who observe it and those who experience it.

The nostalgia I experience during the fall season is not only about leaves changing colors, but about the spiritual change I began to experience. Those years in college taught me a lifelong lesson: change is a community project!

For the first time in my life, I began to experience the significance of a community group. I remember the first time I agreed to attend the group. I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect the changes that were about to take place in my life!

This community group, over a four-year span, gave me something I desperately needed, but didn’t have a clue that I needed. I would summarize what I received from this group each time we met this way: they gave me the Gospel, safety, and time in the context of community. If I was going to change like the leaves in fall, I would need, and I still need, all three!

The Gospel: The community around me helped me not miss the gospel. You can sit in church your entire life and miss the gospel! The issue that kept me from trusting the Gospel wasn’t my destructive lifestyle, but instead, it was my moral lifestyle. On the outside, I was doing the right things, performing the right way, but my motives were focused on pleasing other people. I was caught in a cycle of thinking because I obeyed God, I was accepted. But the truth is I obey God because I am accepted. Instead of trusting in myself to fix, manage, and control my life, I needed to get my eyes off myself and onto Christ. Christ was enough! Change was happening!

Safety: The people in this community group began to instill in me a powerful truth—it was ok not to be ok. I didn’t have to feel the pressure to have it all together, or have all the answers, or to know what do to. There was no need in this space to fake it until you make it. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to be competent to be accepted and loved! Change was happening!

Time: I have always tended to move too fast, especially when it comes to the topic of change. I tend to be more impatient with myself than anyone else. I want the product of change without having to go through the process. This community group, for the first time in my life, taught me the importance of slowing down. I can vividly remember the group often talking about how quickly we stack days, months, and even years. We were giving ourselves permission to live in the present with the understanding that change takes time. Change was happening!

On a fall day when I see those radiant colors on the trees, I cannot help but think back to my first community group experience. Those leaves remind me change is a community project. To become more like Christ it took the gospel, safety, and time in the context of community for me to experience change.

It’s my prayer here at Fellowship that in God’s kindness, because of the change we are experiencing, we would be attractive to those who don’t have a community. May the changing leaves we put on full display for all to see be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May we always remember change is a community project!