Part IV – Christian Revolution - Action Three: Real Community
The thirty seconds I hate most on a Sunday morning are when the pastor says please turn around and greet those around you. It is the most artificial moment on Sunday.
You turn around and see it on everyone’s face, “Oh geez, I hate this part.” As you introduce yourself you can barely hear the name of the individual and then just as you start a small conversation the music gets louder and the first verse of a song starts. This does not create or foster community. It is cold, fake and stupid.
Programs and age group sessions sometimes can be helpful in generating community. However, a true community is something most people tell me they have only experienced at church once in their life for a period of a few years. I watched at two Baptists churches where Sunday groups were split intentionally and community was destroyed in the name of progress and growth.
Very little of church budget goes to caring for the people in a congregation. It pays for the staff, building, expense, the seeding denomination, and some to foreign missions, a little to the local community, and a fraction to people in the church. This does not foster community.
Further, as John Piper describes it, “Sunday morning is the most segregated hours of the week.” This does not foster community. Travis Avenue is a church full of old white people in the middle of one of the most Mexican districts of Fort Worth. This is a sign that, “Something is rotten in Denmark.”
Action Three: In order to have a Christian Revolution their must be authentic community. This starts by you committing to others.
God has chased me. He has never let go of me and He has loved me no matter what I was struggling with, involved with, or even through my intentional avoidance of the relationship. This is not to say He was satisfied with my behavior, but as a Father, he was committed to loving a son.
There is not enough pursuit of individuals as I spoke of in Part III, but further there is little work at creating genuine Christian community. The elements for a genuine community should include:
1. Frequent fellowship
Frequent Fellowship: Plato writes, “You can discover more about someone in an hour of play than a year of conversation.” I found this to be true.
Our home is a center of constant activity. We love to have our friends over, our children’s friends, our neighbors and coworkers. We love to play! Whether at our home, short trips, planned excursions, etc., it is clear that if you really want to know what is going on with someone you need to be at play. This is when people feel comfortable and reveal “what” is going on in their lives.
There are times to come together and worship, celebrate and teach, but don’t miss this: “Play” is the most important thing in creating Christian community.
A wealth of psychological realities exist here we could dive into as to why, but for sake of a short post, it remains true, you do the further research.
If you want to create a genuine Christian community, create play with extreme frequency.
Trust: Sitting with someone every Sunday does not build trust, playing with them does. If you ever want the “real permission” to speak into someone’s life you’ll have to have built their trust over time. Permission to speak to the needs of a soul is an earned permission. Jesus “knocks at the door.” This is a request to be invited in. We must knock as well. Sometimes the door is not immediately swung open.
If you want trust, you’ll have to be trustworthy. Again, only time is going to give you this permission. It means you must be invested long term in play and activity and be available when someone trusts you enough to ask for help, teaching, money, prayer, advice, and a wealth of other human needs.
Intentionality: Be intentional with ever person God puts in your life. This requires you to do the hard work of keeping up with what is going on with every person. You know what I mean so I will not expound. Be aware and act on what you know. Plan time for play, teaching, worship, and whatever is important to the others.
Support: There is nothing in the New Testament about giving ten percent to the church. To quote Allistar Begg, “You can look all day. There’s nothing in there about it. God is not asking for ten percent. He wants you to give it all!”
Your primary community is your family and you are to support them first. “He who does not provide for his family is worse than a non-believer.” I have watched countless men forsake their families under the guise of serving God. This is bull crap. If a man is not meeting the needs of his spouse and children he is a joke and you should not listen to a word from his mouth. This does not mean they have a house and two cars, it just means that he is putting them first before all others.
Next is the support of your Christian community. If all you ever say to someone is I’ll pray for you when they have need, you’ll never have genuine community. Not that prayer is bad, its just most people don’t mean it. Support shows a care and investment in the lives of those around you. If you attend a church you probably should give them a percentage of your tithe to help pay for the preaching you like and the air conditioning, but don’t let them be where you send your friend in need. You be their storehouse. You are the church – be the church. This will require more than ten percent folks.
“Here is where I feel, as evangelicals, we have lost our way. We have made a complete distinction between our giving for missionary purposes and for the material needs of Christians. We have lost our way and ignored the tough stuff – the care of each other’s material needs.” Francis Schaeffer (The Church at the End of the 20th Century) L’Abri Fellowship 1970, Pg. 71
Share and give and you will see genuine community build about you.
Service: Simply serve those around you. Be there and engage in what Boenhoffer called real ministry, “Holding the tongue, meekness, listening, helpfulness, bearing, proclaiming, and authority” Read “Life Together” for their full definitions.
We are in need of a Christian Revolution that includes intentionally pursuing others and creating authentic Christian community. Inauthentic programs with good intentions are killing us.