Our guiding word for 2023 is, “Practice.”

If you wrestle with perfectionism, this word may have made you rejoice. Finally, a theme that gives you a neat, tidy way to measure your own success! (Any fellow Enneagram 3s in the room?) For many others, “Practice” may have evoked an impending sense of doom.

Reject the dual temptations of legalism and shame. We are on the journey of apprenticeship to Jesus together: and it’s a journey marked by grace.

Each month, we’ll study a different spiritual practice. We’re going to take our time, addressing formational practices that Jesus lived and providing sustainable next steps.

We’re starting with the practice that we believe is the most foundational to the Christian journey:

Community, which we define as intentional, safe, long-term relationships centered around the person of Jesus. 

Wait … Community?

Why not the memorization of Scripture, prayer, service to the poor, or silence and solitude? (Don’t worry, we’ll invest heavily in those practices later.) Isn’t the maturity of our faith measured by our ability to follow Jesus without support from others?

On the contrary, community — not independence — marks our progress on our journey toward full spiritual maturity. 

The rugged individualism of American culture has crept into Western evangelicalism, with corrosive consequences. At best, many Christians dismiss community as optional within the Christian journey — helpful if you have the time for it, but far less important than prayer or individual church attendance.

At worst, we dismiss it as a harmful distraction from our personal relationship with God. After all, meaningful relationships are inherently messy, or even hurtful. Shouldn’t our personal relationship with Christ suffice?

Our faith is personal, sure. But it was never meant to be private. 

We are living in an era of social media relationships and surface-level interactions. We have more followers than we could ever need, but fewer friends. We have plenty of connections, but startlingly little community.

The breadth of our interactions (especially virtually) is unsustainable, but they lack any real substance. Our relationships are often transactional — built on convenience or shared interests, but stopping short of being spiritually or emotionally transformational.

To quell our loneliness, we seek out people who look, think, and vote like us. American culture organizes the lonely into divisive, damaging tribes.

But God’s desire is to tenderly place the lonely into families (Psalm 68:6).

Reading this, maybe you’re realizing the hollowness of many of your own friendships. Maybe you believe that community is important but still aren’t convinced that it’s critical to our spiritual formation and apprenticeship to Jesus.

That’s okay. Community isn’t just disruptive to our American schedules. It’s radically counter-cultural. It demands interdependence over independence. It asks for vulnerability instead of strength. It requires time and investment. It leads inevitably to seasons of conflict or disenchantment within our church or friend group.

But at Mill City, we don’t want our lives to look like the “American Dream.” We want our lives to look like Jesus’s. 


Message Series

Weekly Practice Reminder

To receive a friendly reminder of our weekly practice given in Sunday’s message, simply text “practice” to 970-299-9997.



Pastor Aaron sat down with our very own city groups pastor, Marie Beck, for a conversation about the barriers we face in community and the ways we overcome them.

Audio File: