• Date Reviewed: Jan 2024
• Book Reviewed: “True Community” by Jerry Bridges
• Number of Pages: 143 (excluding the discussion guide)
The first time I heard about Jerry Bridges was in college. My dear and faithful Bible study leaders introduced me to him and I started with his Respectable Sins book (which I highly recommend!). Later, I read his book on humility and then still later, his book on trusting God. Although he passed away in 2016, the books he wrote remain as wonderful reminders of who we are in Christ and how we are called to live in light of those truths. True Community continues along that line. Here is a short overview:
“Fellowship among believers is more than just talking over coffee after church service. Biblical fellowship in New Testament times-or koinonia-had rich and varied meanings, including covenant relationship, partnership in the gospel, communion with God and others, and the sharing of earthly possessions…This book will help you dig deeper into what Christian community in the twenty-first century should look like. You will come away with a new appreciation for fellowship, the church, and what God intended the body of Christ to be.”
The first three chapters primarily focus on the believer’s relationship with God as that establishes the foundation for all fellowship within the community of Christ and is where all believers must begin. The following chapters focus on the believer’s relationship with other believers via things like the fellowship of suffering and serving, supporting your local ministry, and spiritual and social fellowship. This book helpfully expands upon the meaning of koinonia by expounding all the various aspects of what it means which goes beyond the typically narrow understanding of fellowship that so many Christians content themselves with today. According to Bridges, “The problem has been that Christians often never get beyond the social dimension of fellowship. Thus, we need a balanced emphasis on the church as a caring community, as a partnership in the gospel, and as a body of believers who mutually build up one another spiritually and share with one another materially.”
One of the ways Bridges encourages us is to engage in spiritual fellowship which includes a great emphasis on Scripture memory with other believers. He offers up a word of caution, however. “Those who have learned to share easily with others what they are learning from God face the danger of failing to listen to what another Christian is saying. In such a case, we are not really interested in fellowship but rather in displaying our own knowledge of Scripture.” He calls our attention to the fact that Christian fellowship is indeed two-sided and that the body of Christ functions best when pride is mortified and humility reigns.
This book presents a wonderful challenge to all believers not to be content with a narrow understanding of fellowship and community but to commit themselves to joining with other believers as they seek to edify one another and strengthen each other in the faith. We should all strive to be good stewards of the time that has been given to us and attempt to make the most of our interactions with the body of Christ. We should not be content to constantly settle with engaging in and initiating interactions with other believers that solely focus on worldly preoccupations and even hinder us in taking hold of the ample opportunities afforded to us to so concern ourselves with the sanctification of our brothers and sisters in Christ that we all grow thereby. This book provides us with a glimpse of what holy fellowship could be if we could slow down and learn about all the ways God would have us relate to Him and each other. I can definitely say that this book challenged me in these ways, and I look forward to applying what I’ve learned! If you would like to gain a well-rounded perspective about what Scripture intends us to understand regarding fellowship, I commend this book to you. It is a short and easy read. I could have read it quicker but ended up spreading it out over four days. Check it out the next time you visit the CRBC Library and come find me when you’ve finished it! I would love to hear what you’ve learned from this insightful book!