Thanks for visiting my blog. I began journaling about my daily life when I was eleven. Over the years, this has grown to become a way for me to share my thoughts rather than my daily life. I’m pretty open with sharing all the beautiful chaos of life with six children. I have to remind myself to extend grace to myself each and every day! It is my hope that my writings will help others to learn to extend grace to themselves too. After all, if it weren’t for the Grace of God, life would just be messy. I’m so glad that life can instead be a Beautiful Mess and is covered by His Beautiful Grace.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Community of Church

By, Audrey McCormick

                A church is a called-out assembly of baptized believers, covenanted together to carry out the Great Commission.  In times past, people would settle in a new area and before building anything else, a place of worship was built.  The settlement grew with the church at its center, and the building was also the center of the settlement.  The people came together to worship, but their relationship with each other didn’t end there.

                Acts 2:46 tells us that the first church continued “daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house.”  The early churches in the United States were much like this.  They came together to help with common chores such as barn-raisings, harvests, and caring for one another when someone was sick.  The church was the center for friendships and socialization.  The togetherness didn’t end at noon on Sunday!

                Somewhere along the way, it was decided that “church isn’t a place for socialization” and we should come to church to “listen and learn, not to have fun and socialize.”  Churches stopped having regular activities for the children and teens.  Family events, except the occasional potluck, became a thing of the past.  Members still occasionally reached out to one another as needed, but no longer were our social lives intertwined and revolving around the church.  Church became a place you went on Sunday morning, and for the most faithful, a place you also went on Sunday night and Wednesday evening. 

                As many have realized the devastating effects of this, they’ve tried to make changes, but are often met with comments such as, “Young people don’t need programs, they just need Jesus,” or, “We’ve always done it this way, so we should continue that.”  When the need for change is presented, we tend to be like the people of Judah in Haggai chapter 2 and look back on the glory days, instead of trusting God with our future, and stepping out in faith to try something new or different.  We want to regurgitate the things that used to work.  We want to hang on to the things we know, even as we see them failing.  We tell ourselves we’re doing a good thing by hanging on through the struggles.  We let manipulated attendance records from things such as bus ministries or potluck dinners following service, trick us into thinking that the church is doing good.  There is nothing wrong with bus ministries or potlucks, but if you want to see a true measure of the strength of a church, look at the number of faithful and involved young families you have. 

                Involved?  Young families?  What does that even mean these days?  The sanctuary is full of young families, so we must be okay, right?  Well, are those young families participating in Sunday School?  Are the parents volunteering to teach, or are your elderly members still filling those roles?  Are these young families planning events and investing in each other’s lives?  Are their children friends with each other outside of church?  Are they doing life together?  So often these things are overlooked or just not even considered because that’s not what church was like in our own young adult days.  This has drastically contributed to the decline of churches. 

                People are no longer attending church just because it’s what they were taught growing up.  They’re no longer flocking to church just because there is a building there with a sign telling service times.  People want to feel like they belong to something great.  They want a sense of investment in the organizations that they are a part of.  They don’t want to be told that their opinions don’t matter, and they don’t want to attend a boring service week after week, where all they do is warm a spot on a pew.  They want community!!! 

                The Oxford Dictionary defines the community as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”  So how do we get back to this feeling of community within the church?  For starters, we can actually spend time together!  We need to talk after church, meet for coffee every now and then, share a meal.  We have to find common interests and shared hobbies.  We have to find ways to relate to one another.  The church can help by hosting activities and socials for people to get to know each other better.  Do we have an organized children’s department?  How about the youth department?  Are we showing the younger ones how to be a church community by reaching out to those in our own town, and showing them love and hospitality?  Are we showing love and hospitality to one another?  Is church a part of our daily life, or only a Sunday and Wednesday event?  If we are to become a church community, we are going to have to stop thinking about church as a place to go, and instead think of it as a way of life. 

                We have to provide reasons to come together other than just for worship.  We have to share love and hospitality in order to truly share life with one another!  We have to once again make church the center of our social life, and a major part of the neighborhood and town in which we serve.  We must stop hiding out in our own homes, and actually get involved in growing a church community.  It is only through community that our church will grow and thrive, and will continue to exist for generations to come. 

I found these two articles to be helpful with simple, practical ways to create and grow a church community. 

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