Sattler Values: CommunityWritten by Clayton Wagler
At Sattler, we deeply value community. For that reason, we strive to create and embody meaningful Christian community. If you take a minute to think about the nature of that task, you might ask the question, “How in the world do you do that?” And that question is completely warranted. Trying to create and embody meaningful Christian community is quite the undertaking. So, how do we do it here at Sattler?
First, we have to identify what it means to “embody meaningful Christian community.” Essentially, we want to be a united and close-knit community, looking out for one another as we move in sync toward the same goal of faithfully living out the kingdom of our Christ. That conjures up two necessary ingredients: love and unity.
Love is a prerequisite for basically anything in the Christian life to be considered a success. Indeed, in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul points out that if one lacks love, all of the good they do profits nothing. Further, love is the hallmark of Christians. Jesus says, “Love one another; as I have loved you … By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). So, if we want to embody meaningful Christian community, it’s imperative that we have love. Referencing 1 Corinthians 13 again, love enables us to suffer long and be kind to others; it keeps us from envy, self-exaltation, and selfishness. Instead of thinking evil of others, love helps us to listen and “bear all things.” Harrison Miller did a good job at giving us the contours of love in his post on the matter. (Love is itself one of our core values.) We should think of “full arms, belabored breathing, and a bent back as [we] carry the weight of [our] love for others” when we think of love. Love is the first and most basic ingredient of embodying any sort of Christian community.
We also need to be unified in order to be a meaningful Christian community. There are many important aspects to unity, but I want to highlight common vision. Essentially, holding a common understanding and passion for a group’s goals will lead to the community being better able to meaningfully reach those goals. We strive to be an intentional community that can’t sit still. A community that, though we have different approaches to coming at our mission, is still on the same mission: to faithfully serve, leading to the building up of Jesus’s kingdom.
Now, having identified what it means to embody meaningful Christian community, we need to look at how we strive to create that here at Sattler. To cultivate love, we implement Journey Groups. Unity – an extension of love – is encouraged by common experience and values, such as tea time, core classes, and pillars of student culture. Journey Groups, composed of a few students, meet weekly. Students share how their week has gone and ask probing questions about each other’s personal life. It’s more than just an accountability group. It’s the group of people you can be real with. The group where you can share how things are going. This puts the onus on students to watch how their fellow group members are doing. If someone is going through something hard, they are the first in line to be able to help them. This requires love. It pushes students to learn how to ask the right questions and to actually listen to what someone is saying — not just sit in a group that will listen to how their week has gone. As far as structured activities from the institution go, I personally can testify that Journey Group has been one of the biggest blessings to me during my time here. It has undoubtedly strengthened the bond of community and taught me how to contribute to a meaningful community.
An equally essential component of community is unity, which is encouraged by common experience and values at the college. I will only touch on three: tea time, core classes, and pillars of student culture. Students can meet at tea time to enjoy some tea and listen to a faculty or fellow student share a “pearl,” which is a story or short word of wisdom that benefits others. All students take the same core classes. The classes enable students to engage the Bible well, understand the basics of biology, analyze history, write and speak well, read biblical languages, and more. Students thus have read a lot of the same material, meaning they possess common knowledge about certain topics. There are official and unofficial values of the college as well, such as what you are reading right now. This Sattler values series lists out 11 things we value and strive for at Sattler. We also have the four Sattler Pillars of Student Culture. These values are the essential things that unite us as a community — even if we approach things differently.
So, the embodiment of community depends on a unified, common vision and love. And we want to create and embody meaningful Christian community at Sattler. But we first need to create community before we can embody it. Therefore, we have put Journey Groups, core classes, pillars of student culture, and other things in place to create that community.
At the end of the day though, how we create Christian community is a hard thing to write about because creating it is something that happens naturally and cannot be forced. It’s something that happens when people get ahold of a substantial vision of the kingdom. It happens when people have been changed by God and now possess a genuine love for others. It comes about when people who are committed to taking up the cross for Jesus come together. So, at Sattler, there is very little we can do to create meaningful community by putting structures into place. The main way we do it is simply by striving to be like Christ ourselves, casting the vision for others, and pouring out ourselves to help others live it out.
At Sattler, we create and embody meaningful Christian community by exemplifying to one another how to faithfully follow Christ. We do it by setting our minds on furthering Christ’s kingdom and encouraging others in pursuing the paths they have been gifted and equipped to traverse. Simply then, insofar as we at Sattler all abide in Christ, we naturally create and embody meaningful Christian community by being like Jesus. Without love — or rather, without Jesus — our community would just be “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”