Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thoughts on community...

I had the privilege of speaking this Sunday morning for the whole church. After a lot of wrestling with what to say and how to say it I decided to share some thoughts on community. I decided to write a bit of a hybrid post from my notes for today's blog. The premise of the message was the importance of taking a "community health exam" just as you would a physical. Here are the thoughts...

It's important for us as Christians to occasionally check ourselves on areas of our Christian walk just as we would when we go to the doctor for our annual physicals. We read in 1st Corinthians chapter 12 that we are a part of the body of Christ, and as churches, youth ministries, and communities of faith we are "bodies" of Christ and our health as a spiritual body is just as important as our physical health...If not more. One area that I think we sometimes fall short is the area of community. So how are we doing in the area of community? How is our spiritual health? (insert your church here, but please understand this was for my church, but I think the principles apply to all churches). Here is how we find out where we stand and how to improve our community health:
  1. It's personal (how are you doing as an individual?)
  • Do you know Christ as your personal savior? Have you surrendered your life to him? If not why not? He gave us everything, can't we give Him something?
  • Do you give to Him? I am not talking just about tithe...Everything we have is His. Do we live our lives seeing the blessings that He has given us or do we hoard what we have and pretend that we are the ones who are responsible for all we have. In addition to this, do we offer Him our time? There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. What if we were to simply offer the Lord 10% of our time each day-it's not that much time, are we so busy that we can't offer Him some of our day?
  • Do we serve Him? He has blessed every single one of us with some type of talent or gift. He made us unique and we have SOMETHING to offer Him whether we're 6 months old, 6 years old, 16, or 60 we can serve Him in some capacity. What are you doing for the Lord right now?

2. It's outreach (How are you with others?)

  • How willing are you to help those who are in need. I know I have become cynical over the years of ministry about helping those who ask for money, be it at our church or on the street. Every once in awhile though the Lord prompts me to give and I try to listen to what He is saying and then do my part to meet the need. I am not saying give money to every homeless person you meet, but are you listening for the Lord's voice when it comes to meeting the needs of others? What are you going to do to help those in need during the upcoming winter when giving goes down? What role can you play in helping those who need help during the winter and holiday season? There is something you can offer I promise, begin asking what God would have you do to help this holiday season.
  • How do you treat those who come through the doors of your church? This is a big one and I still struggle with this, both as a pastor and as an individual. How do we treat strangers and first time visitors? Do we make them feel welcome? Do we make sure they feel like they are a part of our ministry or do we just stay around those who we are comfortable with and pass off a welcome hand shake as enough? I know there are people from my ministry time who have come as a visitor to the churches/youth ministries I have served in who came once and never came back because they weren't made to feel welcome. Are we attending churches who are full of cliques and close cell friendship groups who don't like outsiders or are we attending churches that reach out to visitors and make sure that EVERYONE feels welcome?

3. It's corporate (How are we with each other?)

  • Do we make an effort to step outside our friendship/ministry circles or are we segmented as churches? Do people look at the various ministries as entities in and of themselves or a part of the greater ministry?
  • How do we talk about each other? Do we live out Proverbs 27:17 being like "iron sharpening iron" or do we "dull" our churches' ministries because we tear each other down with gossip, harsh criticisms, and lack of support?
  • How do we support each other? Do we support our leadership, our lay members, our teens and children? Do we pray for them, encourage them, find ways to serve them?

If we are going to be effective as communities of faith we need to find ways to encourage and support one another. Even if we don't agree with the way everything is done we need to support and encourage each other. We are all part of the same team...We can do so much more if we work together instead of against each other.

So how are we doing in these areas? Those are my thoughts on community. Take your own personal "community health" check up.

So what do you think?


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