Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable. And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:23-25
A few days ago I sent an email to a friend in another state who has stopped going to church. Instead, he and his wife watch televangelists on TV.
Here is part of what I wrote: “There is no community, no growing together in faith, no reaching out in mission, no real encouragement, and no accountability watching Osteen (or some other preacher) on TV…”
If I’d thought longer I may have expanded my response. What I wrote doesn’t even scratch the surface, doesn’t even begin to tell the story, of what people miss when they are not an active part of an authentic, vibrant, growing, mission-oriented, faith-based community.
Yesterday morning I was nourished so deeply and completely by the hours I spent at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church. Then, in the evening, Rebekah and I were blessed again via hanging out with around 50 of the “Stumbling Disciples” class, a group of young families who do life together, pray together, encourage one another, watch one another’s children grow, learn, and use their time together as a springboard for outreach and mission – “sparking good deeds.”
I feel so inordinately privileged to find myself in the company of such people, full with life and purpose and faith and joy and so much more.
This is what church is:
- It’s getting together with all kinds of people, folk from every diverse walk of life, to worship God in the context of Christian community.
- It’s taking communion, together with other sinners who have accepted Christ’s wide-open invitation to the Lord’s Table and to real life.
- It’s learning together as we work to understand the scriptures and talk about what it means to be disciples of Jesus and followers of The Living Way.
- It’s reaching out in mission – both in obedience to Christ’s commands and as a natural outflow, sharing the love and the peace and the joy we are growing into ourselves.
- It’s serving the community, the needy, the lost, and the marginalized – in the invitational name of Jesus.
- It’s fellowship and fun and parties and hanging out – doing life together in the name of Jesus and because we love one another.
You can’t get any of that if you are not in community.
This particular weekend our experience was enhanced by teens offering God their praise via creative dance, and by Boy Scouts receiving their “God and Life” awards. It’s always something, always fresh, always alive, always rich, always inspiring, always bursting with life.
It’s church. It’s Christian community. Don’t miss out!
Here are a few photos to illustrate – DEREK
Derek, thanks for all the great posts this year. This one really spoke to me, as the pastor of a small church. I hope you won’t mind if I quote you in a sermon in the near future!!
We met at Myrt’s funeral. I’m Velva Graves’ pastor at Ocoee Christian Church.
Blessings to you and Rebekah at this Christmas season!
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That’s great Margaret – thanks!
Yes, I remember meeting. I’m so glad Velva has such a thoughtful pastor and friend.
Peace and more – Derek