In the last sermon of this series, Brian’s sermon focused on the idea of church. At the heart of his message was a call for each of us to become part of a “house of living stones.” You can watch that sermon below.
Today’s Starting Point lesson builds on the above message by talking about what it means to be part of a faith community. While we have all experienced church at least to some degree, how we understand and experience community differs from one church to the next.
Each of the videos below talk about an important aspect of church community. They have been taken from a single video produced by exploregod.com. We divided them up for ease of viewing alongside follow up questions and thoughts.
The first video is about the importance of sharing the journey of spiritual growth with others.
In the video, he talks about the importance of having a spiritual mentor/example. Is there someone in your life who you see as a spiritual mentor/example? Have you considered reaching out to that person for guidance?
One of the realities of faith is the fact that we all have spiritual weaknesses. Hugh's was caring for the poor. His response to overcome that weakness was to find people with that calling and spend time with them. That practice had a powerful impact on him.
- What is a spiritual weak spot for you?
- What can you do to strengthen that area of your faith?
Real spiritual growth happens when you get desperate enough to actually grow and then you go ask for help. I just don’t think you will grow unless you ask for help.
Spiritual growth is not meant to happen by yourself. Yes, we can just come to church or practice our faith in private, but if you really want to grow, you have to be in community.
At First Christian Church, we encourage those who want to share the faith journey with others to consider joining or starting a small group. If you are interested in learning more about that, please contact Brian Gerard.
In the next video, author Rebekah Lyons talks about the importance of sharing our burdens with others in the community of faith.
Rebekah’s message is a very important one for us all to hear. While it can be difficult for us to share our burdens with others, it is very important that we do so.
She rightly points out that God created us for community – we need it. When we have it there is a strength we can’t get otherwise.
Secrets lose power when they exit the dark. Burdens are not as heavy when shared. The presence of others helps ease the journey.
Do you have a person in your life that you can turn to in times of need?
Do you find it easy or hard to share vulnerabilities? If hard, what might help you explore lessening the burden by sharing with someone else?
If your burdens ever feel like they are too much, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our pastoral staff members. They are here to help shepherd you through any journey you may face. You might also consider requesting a Stephen Minister, which is a person from our congregation who has received training to help provide healing care for those in need. You can learn more about Stephen Ministry at First Christian here.
Our third video talks about the importance of the church in becoming the intersection between heaven and earth.
It is understandable that some people question the need for church. After all, churches are not perfect and sometimes they do things that cause as much harm as good.
But the world really does need the church. Not as an institution, but as a people. The church is the body of Christ here on earth and we are called to be God’s hands and feet in all that we do.
The challenge is that human nature leads us to want our will and our way to be done. In order to get our will and our way, we often manipulate, hurt, or even abuse others. This is not God’s way!
God is seeking to infuse the world with God’s grace. In the video he describes one of the missions of God as a seeking out of people willing to live in ways that put God’s kingdom first - to serve others before serving ourselves. Something Jesus talks about over and over again in the Gospels.
Why do you think we struggle to live our lives that way?
In what ways do you see our church serving as an intersection between heaven and earth? How can you be a part of that?
This next video takes the above ideas to a more personal level.
In describing the church, Jon says it should be, A place where the love of God is so vibrant that anyone who sees it wants to be part of it.
He tells story of homeless man who is brought into community in a powerful way.
What do you think of that story?
Have you witnessed any stories of grace like that?
Would you be open to such radical hospitality?
The church, when it is working properly, gives people a tangible encounter of what it feels like to be loved by Jesus.
The above statement’s power is found in its truth. If the church does not cause people to feel an encounter with Christ – to know that they are loved – then we have failed. Yes, it is messy – as is any relationship, but it is rich and worth it to do all that we can to be that community of loving grace for others.
The final video talks about three components that are essential for any effective community of faith, whether it is church, small group, or other faith gathering.
James describes three key components of a healthy faith community:
Up – focus on God.
In – focus on relationship with one another.
Out – chance to talk about these things with others.
Many churches do one or two of these things really well, but few get a real grasp on all three.
Where do you see our church’s strengths?
Where might we grow?
How can you help First Christian Church become the best community of faith it can be?
James is right when he says that, Ultimately we are called to be a community that loves Jesus and seeks to do all that we do as a reflection of him.
May our church and everyone in it – including you – do all that we can to reflect this goal.
If you have a thought to share or question to ask, feel free to post a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!