In our last post we mentioned healthy families. The Church Community is often referred to as family, note that what we call The Lord’s Prayer begins with the words “Our Father”. The church is even described as a “bride” in the scriptures. In this quotation, the church is saying, “‘Come,’ be part of the life of our community.”
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Revelation 22: 17 KJV
The church exists in a variety of organizational forms. At best, all intend to be inviting to newcomers. You may find one style of worship service, congregational relationship, and organizational structure more satisfying than another; in reality, all congregations have some strengths and some weaknesses, and likewise, the parent organization if there is one, such as a “denomination”. Look first at the congregation nearest you. Visit the pastor and some of the small groups as well as the worship service before you decide whether to attend. It takes a little time for most of us to become comfortable in a new setting and become part of the community.
You may need to attend several congregations near you several times before you decide on one to attend regularly. The opportunity to meet friends who are also children of God is enhanced in the church’s small groups. You will want to attend at least one of the small groups before you make a final decision. As you and members of the congregation get to know one another you will find a welcome place for you; and, if you do not, keep looking.
In rare situations there is no congregation nearby for you to attend. You may invite friends and neighbors to join you in your home or another meeting place for fellowship, study, meditation, prayer, and singing. Pray for spiritual mentors to come to you, and search for them. Opportunities for spiritual fellowship are available on the Internet for those who have the necessary hardware and access. Together you can grow in love, faith, hope, and service into a community of God’s kingdom here on earth.
Having friends into your home is a good idea even if you do have a congregation nearby that meets many of your needs. There still is a need for intimacy that seldom is found in congregational worship. Some congregations are structuring themselves to provide for closer fellowship.
Together we grow more and more into what God created us to be. “light” and “salt” to the world and “a city set on a hill” that provides refuge to weary travelers. Please don’t keep your new “light” of knowledge and understanding hidden. Join with others, so that together more people can see and experience the way to wholeness, the way back into Eden, to innocence and open communication with God and others, without hiding and without shame.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-10. NRSV
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 4:15-21 NRSV
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of (people) knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27 RSV
As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘my beloved.’
And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living god.'”
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 NRSV