Where Courage Grows

By Ryan Sanders

I have visited a lot of living rooms as a pastor. In fact, since I joined IBC’s staff seven years ago, I estimate that I have visited the homes of more than 100 IBCers for meetings of Home Groups or Missional Communities. 

I always leave encouraged. 

That’s because courage grows in circles. When the people of God gather around the word of God and open their hearts to God, they are shot through with courage. Almost without fail, they leave those living rooms inspired to pursue Jesus, to love their families, to bless their neighbors. 

In the introduction to his new book, The Way To Brave: Shaping a David Faith For Today’s Goliath World, Pastor Andy writes this:

    Courage is not a singular virtue that can be sought in isolation. Rather ... it’s a by-product of authentic community, a bonus benefit that we receive in the package deal of love-induced discipleship focused on bearing one another’s burdens and, as the church, being with God for blessing the world around us.

Andy nailed it! A community of believers is the venue God uses to sharpen us, refine us, mobilize us, and encourage us. That is why, on the night before his crucifixion, Jesus spoke his final charge to his community — a circle of his closest friends. 

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Ryan Sanders

We need those circles now more than ever, because it takes more courage than ever to live for the gospel in America. As Barry Jones has preached many times at IBC, our culture is becoming an increasingly inhospitable place for followers of Jesus. Increasingly, we are separated into religious ghettos. Increasingly, we are misunderstood by our secular neighbors. Increasingly, our beliefs are mocked in the public square. And so, increasingly, we need courage to live as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God. 

Let me tell you how that courage is being cultivated in living rooms across our city. 

In Coppell, a community of courage gave Chelsea the pluck to roll down her car window and introduce herself to a neighbor. That introduction has led to a rich discipling relationship. 

In Corinth, a community of courage helped Cheryl knock on the door of “the mean neighbor” across the street who turned out to be more wounded than mean, and Cheryl has helped her cope with life’s travails. 

In Irving, a community of courage completely renovated the home of one neighbor with terminal cancer. 

In Las Colinas, a community of courage is taking over the Crest Apartment complex every Tuesday night with food, drink, friendship, and laughter from about 80 people. 

In Valley Ranch, a community of courage is using hot chocolate and tailgating tents to overcome racial, cultural and religious barriers. 

And online, a community of courage is helping two IBCers organize projects that reach out to fellow “tech geeks” and employ their talents for the kingdom. 

Over and over, as IBCers gather in Missional Communities, they are given the great gift of courage to live as missionary disciples in an inhospitable culture; the courage to love one another and bless their neighbors; the courage to be transformed and, in turn, transform a city. 

Circles are where IBC’s vision takes deep root, because circles are where courage grows.

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