We emphasize community formation because we realize salvation is ecclesial, not individualistic. To be saved is to experience the salvific presence of Christ in his church, through the means of grace, by the work of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is not just a matter of individuals “getting right with God.” It also is about the restoration, healing, and transfiguration of human life, especially human relationships. Indeed, the whole creation will, in some sense, be included in the scope of God’s redemptive plan (cf. Rom. 8:17ff; Eph. 1:9ff; Col. 1:15ff). God’s salvation is thoroughly communal, aiming at the church’s “life together with God,” as Augustine explains. We must repent of the ways we have interiorized and privatized God’s work of salvation, of ways we have traded in the rich, corporate view of salvation taught in the Scriptures for the mess of pottage that is American individualism. We must repent of the ways we have downgraded the church to a mere “voluntary organization,” having no organic connection with redemption. The church is not merely an adjunct to the gospel, tacked on as an afterthought or an unnecessary appendage. Rather, as Calvin says, “the one effect resulting from [Christ’s death] is, that there is a church.” The very goal of the gospel is the existence of a people living in restored fellowship with God and in harmony with one another. The church is not merely an agent or means to salvation; it is salvation (albeit only partially realized, for now). The church is to be the Garden of Eden restored — and on the way to its glorious consummation as the City of God (cf. Rev. 21-22).
Rich Lusk, “A Visionary Ecclesiology”