by Melissa at Breath of Life
My husband & I have been a part of our church family for 15 years. They are the people who have loved us through hard times, celebrated the birth of our daughter, and grieved the illness and death of my father-in-law. They have been constant. We have learned what community is all about through our church family. My life has echoed the quote included at the beginning of Chapter 7, Community, “...in the church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through.” (Martin Luther)
In this chapter, Hunt & Duncan walk us through the effect a thriving women’s ministry can have on a church’s sense of community. We are charged to care for our fellow church members. Community is vital for a church to grow. “Nurturing community life in a congregation is much like developing family life in the home. We must spend time together. We must get to know one another. We must share a common life.” (pg. 109) How does it start? With women. A successful women’s ministry will teach the idea of covenant, will incorporate celebrations, give women a chance to share their stories, encourage members of the body, and give members a sense of being part of the fold.
As I read, I was reminded that the author of Hebrews tells us to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together (Heb. 10:24-25, ESV). Church shouldn’t be about how wonderful the choir sounds, how new the building is, or even how dynamic the preaching is (although it must be Biblical!). I can stay home and watch some pretty great preaching on television, but if I limit my church experience to doing just that, I’m missing out.
Hunt & Duncan give excellent practical ideas that will grow a church family closer together, and that focus on people rather than programs. Any social organization can have events that entertain, and perhaps even meet some needs, but the church is to be set apart in its mission. We are to serve and glorify God, not ourselves.
In his book Dug Down Deep, Joshua Harris gives an analogy that has caused me to understand and appreciate the role of my church in my life. Harris says he used to imagine that life was a bus ride, and church was the stop at the gas station to get fueled up and ready to get through the next part of the journey. Now he realizes that church is the ride itself - it’s the people we do life with. Community.
I’m completely in love with my church family, from the toothless , grinning babies to the wise silver-haired seniors. I haven’t always appreciated this blessing, but I’m determined not to take it for granted. What about you? Is your church family a true family?