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58 Practices Of a Healthy Church Community

Group HugIt’s impossible for a Pastor or even a church staff to care for the spiritual, emotional, and social needs of every individual and family in a congregation. Expecting them to do so places an unscriptural and undue burden on them and creates unrealistic and bound-to-be-unmet expectations in the minds of church members. I mentioned this in a post I wrote last weekend about how I’m sorry when I let people down. In that post, I raised a question. Who then cares for the individuals within a church family? And I answered it. “The individuals do.”

The New Testament is stuffed with pertinent verses about how relationships within the body of Christ should work. We often refer to these as the “one another” passages of the Bible. According to Carl George, there are at least 58 of these “one another” challenges in the New Testament. Just read through them…

  1. “…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
  2. “…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
  3. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
  4. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
  5. “…Love one another…” (John 13:35)
  6. “…Love one another…” (John 15:12)
  7. “…Love one another” (John 15:17)
  8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)
  9. “…Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
  10. “Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)
  11. “…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8)
  12. “…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)
  13. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7)
  14. “…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
  15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16)
  16. “…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)
  17. “…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)
  18. “…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)
  19. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12)
  20. “…Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
  21. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)
  22. “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)
  23. “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)
  24. “…Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
  25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)
  26. “…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)
  27. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
  28. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
  29. “…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)30. “Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9)
  30. “Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13)
  31. “…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)
  32. “Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)
  33. “…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
  34. “…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)
  35. “…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)
  36. “…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)
  37. “…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)
  38. “…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
  39. “Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)
  40. “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
  41. “…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
  42. “…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)
  43. “Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9)
  44. “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)
  45. “…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
  46. “…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)
  47. “…Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8)
  48. “…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8)
  49. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)
  50. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10)
  51. “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)
  52. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)
  53. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:11)
  54. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:23)
  55. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:7)
  56. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:11)
  57. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)
  58. “…Love one another.” (II John 5)

As I said in the previous post, new believers need the care and leadership of others within the church, but as a believer grows, they begin to “own the mission” of “being the church” (or at least this is the expected path of growth and progress). Just imagine with me for a second what it would look like for a Spirit-filled church to practice even half of the one another’s on a consistent basis.

And how? How can people care for others at this level when they only see each other at church on Sunday? And that is part of the problem! We often never move beyond spectator status in the weekend service. We need to go deeper with God and with each other. I think the church becomes family as we get closer in proximity to each other, do life with each other, and relate to each other beyond Sunday’s service.

  • At the weekend gathering, we practice the one another’s very briefly and with many people.
  • In small groups, we practice the one another’s more in depth, with fewer people, and outside the service and even the group meeting.
  • One-on-one, over coffee, playing golf, or serving in a soup line with close friends, we practice the one another’s even more in depth with just one or two people.

It is the role of church leaders to try to create a church structure that opens up the capacity for the one another’s to happen, but ministry leaders can only do so much. The whole body, however, when it is fitly framed together, grows up into a mature family.

Go love one another deeply, from the heart. (It’s #46.)

photo credit: super.heavy

Serving Others Is a Win For Everyone

Don’t read what I’ve written until you watch this video…

Once you dry your eyes, think about some of the huge implications of this story for people who serve in Christian ministry, personally or vocationally.

  • Lots of teams win games (50% actually) but THIS kind of win gets celebrated virally.
  • Sometimes the role of the pros is to serve up the big moment for the big-hearted volunteer.
  • We’re all selfish, until a few of us are not, and the rest of us get swept up in the movement.
  • Popularity is being liked, but influence is using popularity for a far bigger cause.
  • Huggers are heroes. I wish I was one by nature… without the slight awkwardness of trying to be one.

I could go on, but I’d rather you go on. Either in the comments or as you share this on Facebook, offer your own observations.

A 4-Part Definition of Ministry

Here it is:

Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.

– Warren Wiersbe, On Being a Servant of God

According to Warren Wiersbe, one of America’s long-term leading thinkers on ministry issues, this definition consists of four vital parts. Our church staff just walked through his definition of ministry this morning, which includes…

  1. Getting to know the divine resources God has made available,
  2. Compassionately seeing the real needs of people,
  3. Being a willing channel of God’s resources to people in need, so that
  4. God alone is ultimately glorified.

And Wiersbe also points out a prime scriptural example of this definition in action:

1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

– Acts 3:1-10 (NIV)

Notice that Peter and James compassionately saw the lame man’s need and became willing channels of God’s divine resources. As a result, this man and the surrounding crowd gave glory to God and many more people were brought to faith in Jesus.

It’s easy in ministry leadership to check off the next to do list item. But people matter far more than tasks. So open your eyes to the needs around you and be ready to be the channel through which God sends His resources. This is the essence of ministry and servanthood.

Photo by Emmepi79

Discipleship Is a Catch-and-Release Process

Fishing NetJesus stopped a few fishermen one day in the Sea of Galilee and challenged them to turn the world upside down by issuing a simple call… “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19, NIV)

Many have taught about how the disciples left their careers behind to follow Jesus into full-time ministry that day, but they forget the other instances of the disciples fishing for fish later in the gospels. It wasn’t a career change or the sacrifice of a job to which Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John that day. He called them to fish for people, and to make people a superior priority to fish.

One of the mistakes we make in modern ministry leadership is to see people who walk through the doors of our churches on Sunday mornings as potential helpers, come to assist us in the fulfillment of our mission. If we’re not careful, we begin to assess the usefulness of people based on their appearance, their talent, or their apparent zeal and commitment to spending time doing churchy things.

What if instead of seeing people as a means to accomplishing our mission, we viewed people as the mission. The difference is subtle but important between “thanks for coming to help us grow” and “thanks for coming so that we may help you grow.” Does this mean we don’t expect believers to get involved, invest their lives, and serve others? Of course not. There is no real spiritual growth without serving others. It’s simply a matter of being sure we aren’t inadvertently using people for our purposes rather than helping people discover the purposes for which God wants to use them.

At Grace Hills, one of our core values is,

We will bring out the best in people. We don’t use or control people. Instead we will involve, empower, and release people to do great, world-changing things for God.

Our leaders look back to this core value when we need to be reminded of the differences between using people as a means to our mission end and seeing people as our mission. Let me highlight some differences…

  • We want to include people in our family whether or not they are “useful” in the traditional sense of ministry. Jesus hung out with the lame, the blind, and the broken, not because of what they might do for Him as a religious leader, but because of what He could offer to them.
  • We want to involve people in a God-sized vision and mission in the world. And everyone is valuable to that mission, regardless of their appearance or apparent skill set.
  • We want to empower people to grow spiritually as they get involved in ministry. In the business world, we’re concerned with production, but in the church world, we’re concerned less with how much gets done and much more with how people are growing.
  • We want to release people, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide them as they attempt big things for a big God. That means granting them the freedom to be themselves, to take risks, and to fail. It even means releasing them to another church in the Kingdom when God calls them elsewhere, and investing all we can into them while they’re under our care.

Everyone who walks into your weekend service can probably do something for you. The real challenge is figuring out what you can do for them. It’s a matter of changing our question. Instead of what can you do? let’s ask what can we help you become? 

8 Reasons to Take a Sunday to Serve Outside the Church Walls

Ella ServingWe called ours We Love NWA because that’s how people refer to our community. Whatever you call it, we’re glad we took a weekend away from having a worship service in our theater to serve our neighbors. We’re not the first, by any means to have a weekend to “be” the church instead of “doing” church. Other churches have cancelled their regular weekend worship time to go serve in various capacities. But why?

As we geared up for our big weekend, contacted local charitable organizations, and signed up volunteers, we kept the conversation going among our leadership about why we were doing this to begin with. Ultimately, we decided the concept reflected the culture of our church very well, and would accomplish some big goals for us. Let me clarify first, however, the reasons we ruled out:

  • We will not do this simply to attract attention. Attention is valuable, but is never the big goal.
  • We will not do this to “get people to come to church.” It wasn’t about serving in hopes of the return favor of a visit.
  • We will not do this to “take a break” from worship. If this isn’t worship, nothing is.

Instead, taking a Sunday to serve outside the walls might be a good idea because…

  1. It’s what Jesus did and would do, if He were physically still among us. He would love and serve people in tangible ways.
  2. It’s a break for people who devote time “within the walls” to be free to go outside the walls, which is where our bigger focus lies.
  3. It’s an introduction to serving, and we heard repeatedly, “I’d like to do this more often, not just on this Sunday.” Bullseye!
  4. It gives us a chance to practice “with reach.” That is, we can serve alongside non-members and even non-believers, creating community so that people can belong, even before they believe.
  5. It’s a bonding time for the people serving together on a project.
  6. It’s a way to communicate that “giving” involves more than the offering plate. It also involves our time and talents.
  7. It blesses people around us, earning the church a bit of trust for the hearing of the gospel when the door opens.
  8. It’s fun. This wasn’t our primary motive, but it was certainly fun!

This was our first experience with this kind of project. All in all, 108 volunteers gave 371 hours to eight different community service projects. That thrills me, and it made a definite, visible impact on our community and helped us to build relationships with local agency leaders. Would we do it again? Absolutely! And we will, next year!


By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?