By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.John 13:35
How does anyone know that we have love and unselfish concern for one another? What does love look like? Our church has, on average, about 1000-1100 adults in attendance on Sunday mornings. With such a large congregation, we face particular challenges in even knowing one another, much less loving each other well. We are doing some things to organize in such a way that, first of all, we can get to know one another.
- We use a life group model to break our congregation down in such a way that relationships can be shared among smaller numbers of people. A shepherding elder is assigned to small groups of life groups to support the life group leaders, to pray for the members of the life groups, and to provide pastoral support to the life group members as needed.
- We have adult classes designed for good Biblical teaching and discussion as well as good community.
- We have monthly community dinners where our congregation can gather around small tables and get to know one another better.
- We have a variety of separate men and women gatherings, and age group gatherings, so that we can worship, encourage, and build community together.
- We have a prayer chain to alert us that one of us is experiencing difficulty.
These are great beginnings at knowing one another. But is this organization enough to demonstrate to our Chapel Hill community that we are followers of Christ? Love is an active verb. If I were to describe love, I would use words like meals, hugs, notes, time, care, encouragement, prayers. One of the younger women in our church will be having elective major surgery next Monday and has set up a care calendar for the three weeks following the surgery (security code: 9739). The response has been outstanding as many have responded to the need for cleaning, meals, and prayer and visitation. How can we ensure that this kind of response permeates our church culture so that this care is available to every one? I have some thoughts but would welcome more.
- Be humble to let your life group and other relationships know that you are in need.
- Become part of a life group.
- Expand relationships between life groups. We did this when we had ice cream socials a year or so ago. We need to do this so that we can minister well within our life group and can reach out to others who live near us when the need is too great for one life group to handle. This is particularly important for those who live some distance from the church.
- Develop better communication so that we can know when one of us is experiencing difficulty.
When I read what Jesus’s desire for us is and the importance of love and care within the church body, both locally and across the world, I envision for us all to be standing together, shoulder to shoulder, doing life together in large and small ways through all the joys and sorrows that come to any one of us.