This past Sunday night, we talked about our third core value at Restoration: Church is our family. Why family? The primary metaphor for the Church in the New Testament is family. Now the main word translated Church in the greek is ekklesia, which means “assembly,” but the main reference point for how the Church existed was something called “Oikos.”  That word oikos literally means extended family. When we ready through the book of Acts, we see the OIKOS – the extended family – as the shape of mission for the Church.

Sociologist Rodney Stark has studied the shape and growth of the early Church extensively, and here’s how he describes their life together in his book “The Rise of Christianity:”

Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family.

This is the picture we get in Acts 2, as well, as the Church takes shape after Pentecost.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 NIV

The world had never seen this kind of multiethnic, generous, supernatural, hospitable community. They grew daily without big conferences, productions, and strategic plans – they simply focused on being a family to the world around them.

For many of us, the idea of family doesn’t carry a positive connotation. Perhaps we’ve come from a broken family background or have recently experienced the reality of divorce. The beauty of the Church, then and now, was that the “extended families” that formed together through the Roman world were comprised of far more than neat and tidy nuclear families. There were people of different races, socio-economic classes, and cultural backgrounds, all bringing their baggage to the table.

But by the power of the Spirit, they devoted themselves to loving God and one another, and found the grace of God in their messy realities.

The same can be true of us.

The primary way we experience family at Restoration is through what we call City Groups. The heart of City Groups is right in the name: our city. Jeremiah 29:4-7 tells us to pray for and seek the good of our city, because if it prospers, we prosper. City Groups are a community of around 15-30 people who rally around a particular neighborhood, network, or mission. Their heart is to be a family to that group or context, inviting people into the love of Jesus through shared meals, shared serving opportunities, and shared life.

City Groups typically will meet bi-weekly. They are designed to be safe places to invite others into our life together. One week might be a dinner party, another attending a fun event together, another serving a consistent local cause together.

Our vision is to see City Groups gathered around every neighborhood, network, and need in downtown Lexington, saturating our city with the love and compassion of Jesus.

We want to see you get connect to the this kind of community. If you are interested in being a part of City Groups, let us know here!