Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Say Hello To Me

I am preaching tomorrow on 2 Cor. 6.
In this chapter Paul tells the Corinthian church that he has opened up his heart to them, and he want them to "open wide their hearts" also.
He is wanting to forge stronger relational ties with this church but their shielded hearts are preventing this.
So, part of my sermon will be on authentic community - something every church says they want, but very few achieve.

Today I read this excellent article today in Leadership magazine:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2013/fall/going-to-church-alone.html

The writer bemoans the isolation of most congregants in churches in America.
He tells an interesting story of he and his wife being ignored 4 weeks in a row in a new church they were trying to get involved with.

When we lived in Port Moody, we also attended a couple of mid-sized churches.
These were churches in size of between 300-400 worshippers each.
All the indications of church health were there:

  • good worship
  • decent preaching
  • excellent children's ministry
  • small groups
  • ministries to the poor
  • youth group
And yet….

Our family attended these churches for 4 months each - and not a single person ever said hello to us.
It was getting to the point that I was getting depressed on Sunday mornings, because, let's face it - no one likes being ignored.

So, we ended up at a smallish Anglican church in our city. All the indications of a church in decline were there:

  • aging congregation
  • dull worship
  • no children's ministry
  • no youth group
  • average preaching
And yet…

This church had something the other larger, sharper churches did not have.
They had a warm loving community that embraced our family.
We loved going every Sunday because we knew that affection awaited us.
Even Adam and Sophia liked going, because they were treated with such attention.

Hospitality, friendliness truly needs to be the hallmark of Christian community.
Love is the mark of the Christian wrote Francis Schaeffer.
We pay lip service to this truth but so often fail to incarnate it in our practice.

It is time to kiss pretense and facade goodbye and embrace the truth about ourselves.
We are formed for community and our souls ache when we don't experience it.

The breakthrough to community comes through truth telling.
Telling the truth first of all to ourselves - that we are weak and vulnerable and in need of grace.
And then telling the truth to others.
This community of suffering solidifies through the sharing of mutual vulnerability.

Praying
Worshipping
Even serving with others does not lead to true community.

You can do all those things and still be lonely.
A community that does not tell the truth to one another can never be a true community.

Start telling the truth and watch true community flourish.

2 comments:

Susan Anquist said...

Santosh,
Your article has been my experience too. Thank you for you 'truth' telling! God bless you.
Susan (OASIS)

Dwight Hornibrook said...

Thanks for the reminders Santosh!! Love conquers all.