Monday, September 27, 2010

40 Days of Community: You Belong

Day 16. For some reason I was reminded this morning of a horrible youth overnight Helen and I had down in Tennessee. We took the youth to a rock concert and then we were going to camp out at a state park. We had set up three tents and had a great evening, but in the middle of the night a thunderstorm rolled in. It started pouring.
I was in a tent with 5 of the boys and our tent started to leak. We made a barricade with our dirty clothes to keep the water from our sleeping bags. But the levee broke and we were sleeping in water.
Eventually we realized another tent was in water and we all made a run for the church 15 passenger bus. Looking at our tent we saw it was in 3 to 4 inches of standing water and we had put the tents up in the lowest part of the campground. We affectionately called it "Lake Stupid."
We ended up having at least 12 of us sleep in the church bus. We put two of the smaller kids into the overhead luggage racks to sleep and I slept on the cold, metal floor.
I thought about this because that was a terrible night's sleep and really just a miserable evening. However, it was a blast! It was a night that would be remembered for years in the youth group. Why? Because it was a storm we weathered together. It was a wonderful night of fellowship. Our youth group bonded and grew closer together through the night.
This is what fellowship is all about. We were created to go through life together. We are to be with one another in the good times and the bad. We need to be there for one another because we belong to each other. When you think about Christian fellowship just remember it is all about living life together.
You belong to the Body of Christ. You were formed for fellowship.

Monday, September 20, 2010

40 Days of Community: Better Get-Together

Day 9. We have five purposes as a community: Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, Worship and Evangelism. This week we are to focus on evangelism. Evangelism is sharing your faith with other people. This is a calling for all of us as individuals, but also as a community. So my question for you is how can you work with a community to share Christ with others?
There are many ways we can work together to reach people with God's love. First, we need to be praying for other people. Second, we need to love them. This is a great way to reach out with a group. Get a group together to go and show God's love to others. Each of our 40 Days small groups has been challenged to do this. (Personally I think my group will have the best ideas and reach the most people, but we will see.)
Along with those two things I want to encourage you to have better get-togethers. Have times of fun and fellowship with your Christian friends, but also be intentional to invite some people who do not have a church home or a relationship with Christ. You can be very creative with this, but just decide to do something you love and use it to reach out. We have a guy in our church that offers free guitar lessons. As people learn guitar they also experience some of God's love. I read about several couples who have season tickets to a professional football team. The couples then purchased two extra tickets to invite non-Christians to join them for the fun. Then if the non-Christians show interest they invite them to their weekly small group.
What do you love to do with other people? Think of how you could purposefully plan to do that with others in order to help someone experience God. Who would have thought going to a football game or learning the guitar could eternally change someone's life? But it can, if we get together and share God's love with them. God will do amazing things if we get together with others and allow God to work.
I would love to hear from you either what can happen through a community reaching out or what ideas you might have to reach out. If we share these ideas they may spark some wonderful things in one another. We are better together.

Monday, September 13, 2010

40 Days of Community - Created for Community

Day 2
I am excited about what God is going to do as we focus on community for 40 days. I truly believe that if we are willing to live in real Christian community that the struggles of life will not defeat us. We can overcome any obstacle when we live life together. Ecclesiastes 3:12 says, "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." This reminds us that when we stand alone we are not as strong as when we are woven together with others.
This idea of being better together can be a new mindset for most of us. For most of our life we have been encouraged to be independent. It is time to get out on my own, to take care of myself, and to stand on my own two feet. Our country was founded on the Declaration of Independence. We are told it is weak to depend on other people.
This is different than God's teaching. The Bible does not teach us to be independent, but rather interdependent. We are taught in the Scriptures and through the life of Jesus to depend on God and depend on one another. We were created for community, not created for independence.
This means we need to open ourselves up to those around us. We need to be willing to share our struggles and let people know when we need help. We also need to be willing to help when others are in need.
Right now what I see happening is that people are struggling with loneliness, depression, financial situations, broken relationships (especially marriages), and many other situations. They are struggling and because they want to be independent they will not share their need for a community to lift them up. At the same time, we do not have a close enough relationship with that person to know the struggles in their lives.
We need to work on creating a community where we know each other. Where we are open with each other and trust each other. This will weave us together into a strong cord that will not be broken. Then we all will be a community that will hold each other up when facing struggles.
This will not happen overnight, but I believe it is a great goal to pursue. It starts with you, and it can start today. Will you join me in declaring our interdependence?

If you actually read the Declaration of Independence you will find in the last line a declaration of dependence on God and each other. "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."