A couple of weeks ago, Andy Stanley blew up the “twitter sphere” with some comments he made in one of his messages. I heard the message that Sunday and knew there might be some offense taken from his message. The next Sunday, he apologized profusely for his “offensive” comments. He listened to his message and understood why the internet blew up – he heard what he said and how it came across. He said he heard his voice speaking the words, but the words were wrong; not conveying the message he wanted to deliver.
I won’t go into the message, but it had to do with the smallness of some churches. Growing up in small churches, I understood what he was saying because it was a “been there, done that” kind of recollection for me. I got the message in the context that he was trying to convey. And I knew his heart of the matter and he doesn’t speak unkindly about small churches. Small churches and large churches each have their problems in reaching the people – young and old – with the message of the Gospel.
Last Sunday, I sat in a small church in my hometown and thought about Andy’s message. But what I thought about was the context of the community in that small church. At the end of the gathering time, the preacher opened the front of the church to those who wanted to come pray or to come forward with a decision. There were many who gathered at the altar to pray. What struck me was the fact that it wasn’t individuals coming to pray, but couples or friends gathering to pray together. They were praying for one another. It showed me that we are not meant to walk this path alone. We are supposed to be in community with one another – helping each other walk this walk.
The church where I belong is a large church. If it wasn’t for the small group that I attend, I wouldn’t feel a part of this large church. I would just be a face in the crowd. I joined this church about four years ago and have developed friendships with those in my small group. But at times, I still feel disconnected even in the small group. I can put as much effort into the relationships as I desire. It takes intention- whether in a large church or a small church. We have to make the effort to connect. Relationships are the key to become a community.
Yesterday afternoon, I spent some time talking with my neighbor that lives across the street. She is a sister in Christ, and we have been praying for another neighbor as this neighbor goes through a very difficult time. She updated me on some good news, and we rejoiced together in one of our prayers being answered. As I walked away from the conversation, I realized this is what community in Christ is all about. We have an obligation to reach out to those around us. My neighbor has formed a relationship with the mutual neighbor and is able to speak about Jesus to this neighbor. I don’t have the relationship that she has and haven’t had the opportunity to encourage the mutual neighbor. Until the door of opportunity opens, I will continue to pray for the fruitfulness of the connection already formed.
I am excited to be a part of a greater plan. We all have to make the effort to form relationships we can foster and encourage one another as we walk along this journey. We are to be in prayer over one another and offer those who have difficulties the Good News of hope and salvation. God is at work in the community. We all have the opportunities to be a part of what God is doing around us.
The church isn’t about a building but a people. We are the people of God who gather together in a building or house to support one another. It’s not about a denomination. We are one body with one Head – Jesus Christ. The gathering size doesn’t matter – whether large or small. Community matters and reaching out to others is our mission. Prayer is the fuel for the power source of the Holy Spirit to deliver the Good News to all who are ready to hear. When we work together, we can do mighty things for the Kingdom.
Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful]. There is one body [of believers] and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when called [to salvation]— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all. Ephesians 4:3-6 (AMP)