Growing up, there were two words I never wanted to hear from a teacher: “Group Project”
All I heard was that I needed to rely on other people to do work I would prefer to do by myself. After finishing high school, I thought those dark days were behind me, but while reviewing my syllabus for a graduate course, the words jumped off of the page: “Cohort Project, 30%”.
They might have changed the verbiage, but I knew what that meant. Another group project.
It’s been six weeks since the semester began, and I’m realizing now for the first time the importance of working in community. The cohort project is focused on collaborating around organizing a sermon based on a shared Scripture text.
In the beginning stages, I came to the group with my old attitude just wishing I could do this alone. But after meeting with my group members for consecutive weeks, I’ve been granted a new perspective.
Clarity is achieved in community.
There are insights and connections that I would have missed out on if I had tried to make the intellectual trek alone. My own experience, learning and background are insufficient to mine the depths of God’s Word and bring the treasure therein to bear on the lives of other people. It is digging in God’s word as a group that reveals the gold that a single mind often is incapable of mining.
But the principle goes beyond the classroom. It is within community that we gain a greater understanding on life in general.
Think about a jury. Why is it composed of 12 people instead of 1?
The reason is that one mind is not sufficient to come to a fully orbed understanding. It takes twelve minds, working together, to reach a full understanding of the truth.
Imagine the absurdity of a think tank composed of one thinker! It’s within community that our thoughts are expanded and refined. It’s in the presence of others that our blind spots are uncovered and our weaknesses bolstered. Community has the power to show us things in a new light, grant a new perspective and enrich us through our fellow image-bearers.
This truth is even more accented in the life of a follower of Christ. It is within the community of Christ that we behold more fully the many facets of God’s grace in our lives.
No one life can fully reflect the goodness and grace of God. But taken together, each of our stories provides a different aspect of the diamond that is the love of Christ.
I used to think that the age of the group project would fade into the background, that eventually I would be able to complete my projects on my own time and in my own way.
Instead I’ve learned that all of life is a group project.
Who I am today and where I’m headed tomorrow is only possible because of the community God has graciously placed me in. It is only as we press into that community and fold our lives into the stories of others that the true, the good and the beautiful come into focus.