I find myself in a quandary: I thoroughly believe in gathering together as believers. Scripture seems to describe two different venues for this: “Temple” (Sunday Morning Church would be our equivalent) and “breaking bread from house to house”.
We have lost the second one for the most part. Oh, I know: There are small groups, Wednesday Night gatherings…but gathering just to be with each other doesn’t really happen.
I have tried to have gatherings in my home, but very few people engage…
Sunday Morning Church is largely uninspired and, quite frankly, boring for me.
So, here’s my thought. Below is a survey. I would like to hear about your desires and experiences:
1. What works for you?
a. “Just let me go to Church on Sunday Morning; don’t bother me the rest of the week.”
b. “I would thoroughly enjoy a small gathering where people really get to know me and I get to know them.”
c. “Sunday Morning gathering is richer when I have had contact with believers during the week.”
d. “I would rather meet with people who don’t go to the same Church as I do for my small group.”
e. “I want my small roup or midweek service to be with those who go to the same Church as I.”
2. Church is:
c. An institution.
3. Church should be:
a. run by clergy only.
b. A place where all believers use and strengthen their gifts.
c. Elder run.
d. Forget all that; just gather and have fun.
4. What makes “successful” Church gatherings to you?
a. A good sermon.
b. Beautiful music.
c. Rowdy, upbeat worship.
d. Good coffee and cookies afterward.
e. Good fellowship hour.
5. Do you have questions or comments?
Ambassadors of God’s Kingdom are varied indeed:
Some are conservative while others are progressive;
There are liturgical believers and evangelicals;
Rich, poor and those who live “in between”;
Well educated, professionals, tradesmen, laborers, those who don’t work at all;
People of every race and tradition.
Yet these ambassadors have the most important thing in common:
They belong to Jesus.
They love and serve Him;
They share in the joy and abundant life he gives;
They want to bring others into God’s household
So that the family will grow.
The people who came to our feast today;
The ones who helped and gave.
The lovely flowers brought to us;
The treats we were pleased to have.
Expressions of warmth and gratitude;
People who showed they care;
Hope, excitement, joy and pleasure;
All we were privileged to share.
Sometimes, I have to dig and search,
Other times, blessings just come.
Either way, I give thanks for them:
God, friends, family, home.
Warm sun and soft breezes;
Times when cold eases:
These are worthy of praise.
Good friends and companions
Time spent with loved ones:
These are worthy of praise.
God’s love and faithfulness;
His mercy and grace;
All that blesses us:
These are worthy of praise.
Lord teach us to ponder
Your goodness always;
The joy and wonder
That is worthy of praise.
These are the words to a song I am composing. I have the melody and some of the harmony:
You’re the author of my heritage;
My life is found in you.
You know the plans you have for me
And my destiny is true.
The riches of my legacy
Will bless for years to come;
I’m your precious child, oh Lord Most High
And your kingdom is my home.
You live in me;
I’m alive in you
In all I am;
In all I do.
The greatest family value is love:
Papa God set the standard;
Big Brother Jesus sest the example;
Holy Spirit empowers us
So that we can live accordingly.
Another family value is truth:
Spoken in sincerest love;
The standard for God’s dear sons and daughters;
In knowing Him we are set free,
Jesus the Way the truth and the life.
Papa God’s family values honor:
Parents, each other and all
Who know Him or need to find His presence;
Until they learn they are precious
And find their identity in Christ.
As we grow and learn family values,
May we practice them daily;
Call for God’s will on earth as in Heaven;
Live in Kingdom reality;
Reflect His glory until He comes.
When I was in college, the Church I attended had a custom of adopting students.
Several families participated. Each would choose someone, who would be invited to Sunday dinners and any holiday celebrations whenever that person was in town.
I was really blessed by this. I lived too far away from my parents to go for short breaks, such as Thanksgiving and Easter and in my freshman year, I lived in a dorm, so Sunday dinner with a family was a big treat. I never had to wonder if I would be alone for a holiday; it was a given that I would go to my Church family’s home. I felt loved and nurtured by them.
What a wonderful example of life in the church! The care of this small congregation was about so much more than friendly greetings on Sunday Morning; they recognized and met a real need in practical ways.
I was reminded of this a couple of days ago, when a friend told me that her family invites singles from their Church to share in celebrations. I blessed her for that.
Until recently, I have not been able to count on having somewhere to go; in fact, have spent some holidays alone. I am quite proactive, so these solitary celebrations have not happened because I failed to take action.
My point is this: If you have a way to do it at all, include people from your Church family in celebrations. Ask early; last minute invitations are awkward.
In a broader sense, we either are family or we’re not. If we are, let’s live it out with each other. Drop the barriers of considering family as those who are related by marriage or biology to thinking in a more relational sense. Who do you know that is close to you, belongs to Jesus and really adds to your household? Start there.
As we build authentic, close relationships with each other, even those who challenge us can join more fully. In all likelihood, they will heal and be less difficult to embrace. We will also know and understand them better, so that we are not provoking or rejecting them.
As we take these steps, the Family of Christ becomes stronger, healthier and very blessed.
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,…” (Acts 2:46)
Since the late 1990’s, my observation has been that the Church “goes to temple” in the form of Sunday Morning gatherings, and possibly a midweek service of some kind.
We have lost the practice of breaking bread from house to house, however, and we need it back.
One big reason for knowing the needs of others was that these people were spending real time together and building close relationships.
This fit their culture well: The family structure at that time was the clan family, which included people who were related biologically or through marriage, friends, servants and strangers who attached themselves to a particular clan. That is why Mary and Joseph could be in caravan for three days before they realized Jesus was not with
them. As far as they knew, he was with Uncle Caleb or cousin Nathan and their friends. (see Luke 2:43-46)
The church is described in a few different ways now:
Family, community, fellowship…
One challenge with calling the Church “family” is that it does not fit our cultural norm, which makes this description a little hard to embrace.
Church as community might feel more comfortable, but it fails to call us to the deeper levels of relationship we need.
Fellowship is only one aspect of Church, making it a bit incomplete.
So, how do we become more relational? How do we move from being “Temple only” to believers who really engage with each other?
I will add comments to explore these and other questions. Meanwhile, I would love to hear from you.
What is “Church” to you?
Do you have ideas about how we can begin to “break bread each day?”
I have a couple of suggestions:
*One is to begin with relationships that make more sense to us. For me, that might be my neighborhood. For someone else, that might be a group of friends.
*Small groups might try being less structured, even if that is once a month.
*If only a couple of believers begin to meet and share; they might be able to invite others.