Clarification About Fellowship and Community

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As Jill and I have re-read this month’s posts about fellowship and community, we’ve realized we might be misunderstood to be saying you need to serve at church. So I want to clarify this by saying:

— You Need to Serve at Church —

Well, maybe need is a strong word and I realize you might be thinking, “who made YOU the boss of me?” So rather than rely on me and my opinions, let’s see what the Word says, shall we?

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

“Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, ‘How can I help?’”  — Romans 15:2, MSG

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” — Ephesians 2:10

Huh, maybe need isn’t such a strong word after all.

But Why Serve at CHURCH?

Yeah, yeah, I know…

  • You have SO much else to do.
  • You serve a million other places.
  • All church does is ask for help (or money)!

And you’re point is what?

Church as Your Hub

Charlie Tremendous Jones said, “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things, the books you read and the people you meet.”

So do you want to be like those growing in their faith or not?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” — Hebrews 10:24-25

And there is no greater way to spur and encourage than by serving and being served by one another in fellowship and community. This is how family works and your church family is…well, family!

So, as we finish up this month’s blog topic, Jill and I encourage you to ask how you can serve at church. The blessings you’ll receive will go far beyond what you’ll give.

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You Gotta Serve Somebody

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We noticed something at church yesterday: three of the five pre-service, announcement slides were messages about needing help with particular ministries.

Your Calendar

I heard a speaker once say that he could tell exactly what matters to a person by simply looking at their calendar. Ouch!

But he’s right. No matter what we say or think about our priorities, the way we spend the precious resource of time reveals the truth. We spend our time doing what matters most.

And whether we identify it as such or not, we are literally serving what matters most.

Bob Dylan famously said it this way:

“But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”

Let’s also consider:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!” — Jesus in Matthew 6:21

But I’m Busy

Yes, we know you’re busy. We’re not trying to make you feel bad. We’re not trying to make you feel guilty. And we’re most certainly not trying to make you even MORE busy.

But busyness is not the issue. The issue is service, and service is a two way street.

There is a difference between volunteering and service. A point we made in an earlier post is that, “A volunteer looks upon ministry as another commitment they’ve been obligated to fulfill, but someone called by God to serve looks upon service as an opportunity to be used by God.”

Another way to see the difference is to view it in the perspective of family. Family members do not “volunteer” to wash the dishes, they wash the dishes to serve the other family members and themselves.

Who’s Your Family?

Our experience has shown us that there is one primary reason people do not serve within their church: they don’t view church – or more specifically, their fellow church goers – as family.

Instead, they interact as a guest:

  • Who do I talk to so I can…?
  • Where do I go to find…?
  • When do we….?
  • What’s in it for me?

Guests live on the fringe, if they really live at all.

Family members say, “I’m thirsty, where’s the water and can I get anyone else a glass while I’m up?”

And that is how to never thirst again.

Make It Your Church

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As you know, we’re spending this month talking about church, our church family and community. Today, we’ll put this in context with a call to action!

Church Is Only Church WITH You!

“The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” — What Is The Church.

So by definition, Church is a bunch of Christ followers. Just like a family is a bunch of family members.

However, membership in a family does not make familyship happen automatically (we made up that word…). Birth is only the factual launch of what might become a family.

Familyship only happens when everyone involved functions in community, interaction, fellowship, service and so much more.

And just like your family can’t be a family unless you participate as a family member, your church cannot be a church without your participation.

Make It Your Church

So here’s our call to action: get involved with your church!

We are fast approaching the start of a new school year. It is one of two times each year (January 1st is the other) when we reprioritize our lives. It is the perfect time to fulfill your call to “an assembly.”

We’ll answer your potential “but how?” question with answers specific to Springhouse Worship and Arts Center knowing there are similar opportunities at ALL churches:

  • Child Care: Yeah, yeah, we know you’ve heard it again and again. But have you ever stopped to consider why? First, a thriving Church will be full of kids. Second, Parents want some time away from their kids. Third, everyone thinks childcare means changing infant’s diapers. Fourth, everyone else thinks someone else will serve so they don’t have to. To all these and more, we say kids come in all ages, they all need the impact you’ll bring and it’s time for you to be the “someone else” who will serve. Read about our experience here.
  • Service Support: Putting on a welcoming and successful Sunday or Wednesday night service is a HUGE undertaking with plenty to do. If you can breathe, you can help.
  • Missions: Called to Africa? Great! If not, there’s still plenty of ways you can help and not just “out in the field.” Just ask.
  • Praise Team: Great singer or player? Great! But again, if not, there’s still plenty of ways you can help. For instance, you could manage the copies of sheet music and lyrics.
  • Teaching: Have a favorite book or study or…? You could help bring what you’ve learned to others.
  • Admin: See below – Churches need any number of administrative tasks done each week and month.
  • Specific Ministries: One of the unique ministries of Springhouse Worship and Arts Ministry is our community theatre, Springhouse Theatre Company. Yes we need actors and actresses but believe me, the major work goes on behind the scenes! Every church has something like this. Don’t just assume you have “to be talented in” to get involved. Just ASK!

The bottom line is this: a corporate body Church is much like a business. Which means:

  • There are hundreds and hundreds of things to do to keep it running effectively and efficiently. And you, yes YOU, can do some of those things.
  • If these things are left undone, the Church will function (probably), but not very well.
  • All you have to do to “succeed” is to say yes, be trainable and work hard. And yes btw, that is true of all success.

So there you have it, our call to action: GET INVOLVED WITH YOUR CHURCH!

It is the ultimate win-win-WIN!

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Family and Church

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We don’t pick our families; we are just born into them. For some of you, this conjures up some sweet warm fuzzy feelings. And for others, this is a source of anxiety!

Ah, family. Being a director of “Family Life”, we felt it was important to talk about family, especially in the context of church.

The Challenges of Family

There is no such thing as a perfect family. We all have to eventually step back and observe our family and the idiosyncrasies of how they work…or don’t work. There are moments that we find ourselves asking why are they like that? A kind of a psycho analysis moment. We then can make a choice either to deal with it, or ignore it. But those moments come for us all. And that’s a good thing.

“The only true source of meaning in life is found in love for God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and love for mankind, beginning with our own families.” — Dr. James Dobson

Families are challenging because they are made up of people. People that God loves and died for.

Controlled by Family

This is important to note because we cannot blame our lives on our family.

When your number’s up and you go to heaven, you’re not going to stand in front of the Lord and tell Him that your life decisions were made because your family told you so. Family does not “own” you. You will have to figure out what you stand for. What you feel about this and that and life itself.

Family and Church

You don’t have to be related to someone to consider them family. We live very far away from our related family. Sometimes that’s really hard. We love our family and do miss them, especially around the holidays and special occasions.  But God and His graciousness, has given us a church family. We have made close friends who have spoken into our lives and our children’s lives over the years.

And what’s true about blood family is also true about our church family:

  • There’s no such thing as a perfect church because it too is a “family” of people. People that God loves and died for.
  • They too have idiosyncrasies of how they work…or don’t work. They have idiosyncrasies as individuals and also as a group.
  • You will also not be able to stand before the Lord and tell Him that your life decisions were made because your church told you so.

YET, we are called to be part of a church:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” — Hebrews 10:24-25

We believe that this means a corporate body of believers not a home church. Why? Because in most cases, home churches are formed in response to the idiosyncrasies and challenges of body life. But this is a deception. The body can live without the toe, but the toe cannot live without the body!

The very things that challenge us the most in corporate, body life are the very things God wants to grow.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”  — Romans 12:9-10

There is a reason they call it a church family. And if you’re dissatisfied with your “church” family, and think it is dysfunctional- then take a closer look at you blood family. They are too. No one is perfect.

Be involved in the corporate body of Christ. This is where your true family is.

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Fellowship and Community

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This month we’re going to talk about the importance of Fellowship and Community. Why? What does this have to do with marriages? Well…a lot actually.

“Service is the pathway to real significance.” ~Rick Warren

Connecting and serving with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is important for couples. Isolation is not healthy and feelings of isolation can be very strong even within a church.

Connecting Through Serving

Years ago, Steve and I were members of a very large church where it was easy to become a nameless drone of endless people. We chose to get involved and started helping out on Wed. nights by teaching the 1st graders. It really didn’t take much effort — just a little investment in time. Here’s what came out of that experience:

  • Kids are a hoot! Every evening was fun and we actually ended up going home with our “tanks” full.
  • The nameless drones of endless people began to be people we knew! As we began to get to know the kids, we came to know their parents as well. Soon it became, “Hi Susie!” “Hi Jeff!” And a little guy would run up and say “Hi Miss Jill, Hi Mr. Steve!” as we would walk down the corridor.
  • Conversations and playdates began to happen for us and our kids.
  • We began to feel a sense of community and belonging.
  • We found we enjoyed church far more.

This experience taught us that you can’t expect to feel a part of something if you’re not willing to invest in it.

Make It Your Church

If we are to emulate Christ — who came to serve and not to be served (Mark 10:45 & Matt. 20:28) — then we need to get involved with the church and help serve its needs. And trust me, there are needs.

Serving not only meets those needs, but you will actually end up being the one who will get blessed as well! Trust me on this. Please do not think of this as volunteering, because you’re not. You are serving and there’s a difference.

  1. A volunteer looks upon ministry as another commitment they’ve been obligated to fulfill, but someone called by God to serve looks upon service as an opportunity to be used by God.
  2. A volunteer sits back and complains about things, but a servant looks for ways to help.
  3. A volunteer is oblivious to the needs of those around them, but a servant is sensitive to them and prays for them.
  4. A volunteer’s main source of fulfillment is her talents and abilities, but a servant knows that being used by God is the most fulfilling thing they can do with their life.
  5. A volunteer can’t handle being put into a situation where she is “stretched”, but a servant responds to God with a humble dependence on Him.

Come. Serve. Invest.

We all need Fellowship and we all need Community, so get involved! Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t isolate yourself either and don’t come to church with a “self”-seeking attitude. Come with an expectancy to get involved.

You will be blessed!

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