THIS IS FOR ALL THE LONELY CHURCHES…

16 10 2017

bwhdr

The Beatles were right when they sang, “All You Need is Love,” but then they broke up. Captain and Tennille sang, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” until it didn’t. The band America challenged us to, “don’t give up until we have drunk from that silver cup.” The Supremes added that, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love,” because “Love don’t come easy as it’s a game of give and take. Tavares chimed in that, “It Only Takes A Minute Girl To Fall In Love,” but it takes a lifetime to make it last! Love labors and will require some blood, sweat and tears for it to be experienced and shared. Love is certainly worth the effort but one must not ignore the truth that it doesn’t blossom and bloom without personal sacrifice. If you have been looking for love in all the wrong places, maybe it is time to recalculate so that the Lord can point you in the right direction. There is too much to lose if you wait too late to love and be loved.  

Just this past summer, I was chatting with a woman who was visiting with us and she shared a frustration with her home church. She went on to tell me that after a Sunday Service she would get very excited about what she heard from the Lord and she was looking for anyone within the congregation who might be willing to sit and talk about what she was receiving. As she searched high and low, would you believe there was nobody to be found who would invest some extra time with this individual? This lady went on and made the remark that she felt like at times, her church was one of the loneliest places on this earth.                           

I can understand how this happens. If you want to grow up in the faith, you must be willing to dig deep into the matters of the heart. With those steps, people must be willing to be patient and vulnerable with one another. It also takes lots of faith and trust to soar higher in the stratosphere of relationships. Goals like comfort and ease need to be replaced by seeds of compassion and expectation. It takes a commitment of both regulars and newcomers to be open to knowing one another so we can be growing closer to growing with one another.

But there must be a willingness and plan to break the mold. Families and friends who normally seek each other out in such large crowds need to be open to adding new faces to their circle of cohorts. Rather than just sitting in the same seat week after week at church, participants must be open to rotating around the room to get to know those on the other side of the sanctuary. Small talk needs to be abandoned for bigger matters of life. And while I believe that there is no conscious thought of ignoring others around them, the truth remains that those sitting alone on the outskirts of such happy gatherings more often than not feel ignored and left out. It isn’t anyone’s fault. The blame can be leveled at both sides of this coin but I will bet all the change in my pockets that this is not how God intended his kids to treat one another.

If we are serious about putting into practice a higher love that is ignited by Heaven above, then we need to come to Church with intentions that extend beyond selfish reasons. The woman who I was referring to earlier, had also been thinking about specific ways that she too could be more proactive rather than reactive when it came to setting the temperature in her place of worship. Let me share with you what she emailed to me. Maybe you will try some of these as soon as this weekend when you head back to the body of Christ.

Pray before you go. Pray for God to open your eyes to notice the people around you. Ask God to give you Holy Spirit Radar to notice what is just below the surface. Invite the Lord to use you in somebody else’s life. Don’t be in such a hurry to get out before you genuinely get in.

Eye contact is so important.  You are never fully dressed without a smile Annie. Pray for a courageous boldness to approach strangers.  A quick hello, handshake, and name exchange takes a few seconds, but can leave a lasting impression. If you are an introvert, ask the Lord to make it possible for you to have at least one significant conversation with somebody new before you leave. If you are an extrovert, let the Lord use your personality to seek out those sitting alone or looking like they don’t belong. We never know who needs a hug, a word of encouragement, or a timely prayer. Get used to being used! It is exciting and life changing. It also changes the atmosphere of a big church into a close knit family.

Ask God, “How can I let you love me and to love others through me today?” We want to feel God’s love in our lives everyday; however, we need to be open to receiving His love.  Likewise, we can show God’s love to others if we allow Him to show us how best to offer that love.  Don’t limit God! There are so many more ways we can help others to feel welcomed in church. Just use your imagination and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. You never know who He might direct you to meet. Your new best friend might be the stranger sitting next to you.

I am praying for your church as I ask you to pray for mine. But let’s allow the power of God to change the positions of people from feeling lonely to feeling loved. God is love and anyone who is born of God becomes fruitful in their love for one another. Let’s be the church that fills the places we meet with the kind of genuine connection and caring community that the world can’t provide nor can they take it away.            

So here is your challenge for the week: Think of somebody in the church that you would like to get to know better and invite them to lunch next week.

 


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