For a while I was writing my blogs on the key values of our church. But when the pandemic hit, I obviously needed to address that, share thoughts, and give updates. We are still in the crisis, but I think it’s a good time to focus again on the values of our church and why they make such a difference. This is especially true this week, because we were talking about the church as a spiritual family.
Here is the first part of this key value:
We laugh together, eat together, encourage each other, have fun together, serve each other, and forgive each other. We are a family, and life is better together.
When we say that we are family, that is not just an analogy. Jesus came and formed a new family of those who love Him and obey him (Mark 3:33). This is our eternal family. I tell my kids that I am temporarily their dad, but eternally their brother in Christ. True fellowship happens when Jesus is the center of our lives and relationships (Acts 2:420-47). We are created for connection, and being together is so important. No hero of faith has made it alone, yet so many people today think their walk with God can exist without the people of God. Those who disconnect from the family faith eventually drift away from faith altogether (Heb 10:25). Together we laugh, cry, and support each other. Life is truly better together!
It is often a struggle to connect with God’s people because it is those very people who have hurt us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian who established a resistance seminary in Nazi Germany, wrote that the first thing that must happen for true community is for the dream version of community to die (Life Together, ch.1). There is no dream version, just real people making real mistakes. If our communities are to be places of God‘s forgiveness, then it makes sense that we would make mistakes, otherwise there would be nothing to forgive (Eph 4:32; Col 3:13). People must forgive the people of God, forgive themselves, and commit to life together.
Here’s how we talk about conflict:
We handle conflict biblically, directly, and constructively.
Conflict is a normal part of healthy relationships, but most of us don’t know how to do it well; our world has very few examples of healthy conflict. God’s family is called to be an example of how to deal with conflict in healthy ways (Matt 18:15-17; Luke 11:4; Eph 4:29). Our church has been talking about this since the day we opened our doors, and we will continue to live it out. Talking through conflict is part of a good relationship, and can move our relationship forward (1 Thess 5:11-26).
The last part of our key value on Family says this:
Everyone is welcome and loved; everyone is challenged to follow Jesus selflessly.
Our doors are open to everybody. We will not turn anyone away. This doesn’t mean that anyone can do anything they want. This is God's family, and we seek to follow His family rules (shown in His word). Everyone is challenged to follow Jesus selflessly. This family is not about our rights; we follow the example of Christ who laid aside His rights, became a servant, and sacrificed His life for us (Phil 2). In this family, it is in serving that we find greatness; it is and sacrifice that we find fulfillment. This is the way of Jesus and a path to true life (Mark 8:34-38).
I love our church family!