Deeply Connected senza Facebook

I recently spent some time with a church community that was so harmoniously connected they didn’t need Facebook. Just imagine that! How did they do it? (written with great sarcasm)  In the same week, I heard from another ministry that was researching how they could really leverage social networking to grow the church. (note of sarcasm here, too)

Probably won't find us on Facebook

I just want to share a recipe of a beautiful minestrone that I’ve tasted. When you’re involved in deep, rich community of the Lord Jesus, the relationships are so good, you don’t “need” Facebook.  It’s too superficial and woefully artificial. Why trade-out the real thing?
At the same time, FB can become a useful tool for simple group organization and a type of “global phonebook.” However, it is not the “go to place” for tasting rich community. There is a subtle temptation to make it a substitute for the effort of the true face-time that community requires. But we don’t need FB (or similar) for that.I think we just give away too much if we substitute social media for the frequency of seeing each other. Social media can help our deep connections, not furnish them.

We already have the One — who reveals his face to us — in the Book. He also shows us how much he “likes” us through our church family. And to that, we say, “Basta” in Italiano.

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The Meeting Fixation

Circleofchairs
I recently posted about thepulpit fixationwhere churches practice the great majority of their ministry from the pulpit — to the exclusion of operational Christian community. In this post, my thought goes to another ministry extreme that we’ve encountered among small groups. That tendency is to say that as long as we have “small or home group meetings” all of the ministry is being done through those meeting times. And that leads us to this important point: what we have is a meeting fixation to the exclusion of life lived together in Christian community.

The benefit of small group meetings is that they are another opportunity along-the-way of missional community life that is lived all week long. The default tendency is to put all of the emphasis onto the event of the meeting and to load all of the ministry into a 2-3 hour block of time together. NO, beware of doing that. Jesus is the King, not an event or program we’re running.

Again, the small, gospel community meeting at a home is meant to give people a friendly, family-time with Jesus. We can think of it as a rally point within the week that intentionally eats and shares both the Word and life together. Another way to say this is that a small group meeting is one of the numerous ways that we share life together throughout the week — not the only way. A meeting can richly assist our relationships to grow more deeply, but it is too short to have the necessary face-to-face and foot-washing time that spiritual friendships really need. Our friendships and Christian communities need the Bible coursing through them in a thousand different ways.

The Pulpit Fixation

Gospel preaching and heralding is so important; yes, central to church life and mission. “Thus says the Lord” (the kerygma) proclamation is unmatched in any other practice of the church. Men do well to study and refine both their art and skillset for better communication and captivating messages of grace.

However, there is a fixation with the “pulpit” that is counter-productive to church life. The hindrance comes when men focus so heavily on the pulpit-as-all-central to the exclusion of the practice of Christian community. We need to emphasize here that it is the Christian community which is called to live-out all of the finely delivered sermons they receive. Truly, the church body needs the preached Word but it also needs the gifts operating throughout the bride. Are we being careful so as not to make an enemy out of the practice of Christian community to seek validation for our preaching?

A pulpit-only ministry has two problem areas to start with. First, it communicates there is one person (or a few) who has all the gifts you need. Second, it pits the practice of the Word against the listening to it. In a brief amount of time, you will have frustrated and unfulfilled sheep because they have no avenues to practice the one-anothers nor missional outreach. Good messages will turn from captivating to aggravating due to the guilt of sitting on so many spoken truths. We need both the spoken and the embodied Word. It should not be an either-or scenario.

 

Podium

 

Note: coming next – “the meeting fixation” – which deals with the idea of groups meeting without biblical intentionality. 

A Great Definition of Accountability

The Apostle Paul writes to some of his life’s best friends — the loving, supporting believers of Philippi. And he says to them in chapter 1:

7 “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,”

There are a lot of deep “connection phrases” there in those verses (ie. hold you in my heart, you are partakers with me, I yearn for you with all affection etc. ) What I see Paul describing is a rich, mutual sharing where each party has each other’s best interests in mind. They really like and love each other. The Philippians want Paul to flourish, and Paul wants the same for them.

They are deep, spiritual friends. Only friends who know that other friends have their best interests at heart will open themselves accountably.

Therefore, accountability is spiritual friendship operating at its very best.

Family Minestra

Ciao!


When one of my friends in our ministry saw that I was starting this blog, she wrote and exclaimed, “LOVE it. So great- can’t wait for you to spill your beans on the screen. 🙂 ”    Well said. What might look like good soup to me, in reality, is probably just a mess of spilled beans on the screen. I’m still encouraged, however, because I know there’s at least one who doesn’t mind me spilling beans.


So, let’s start cooking (or spilling) here through Holy Minestrone. Thanks for reading and please feel free to reply or comment. Cooking with friends makes the kitchen really enjoyable. Just ask my wife — I keep her company while she does the cooking all the time.


Family Minestra (soup)


I wanted to share a quote that stuck with me since the time I read it in 1996. The church is the family of God, and the family is the church of God. It is a simple thought with a depth of truth. The author was speaking about how Jesus is a real person and if we have his mind, it will impact our church structures. Here is a little more of the author’s context:


Church structure must be compatible with this personal emphasis. Structures should bring people face-to-face with Jesus Christ as responsible persons…Obviously, this will require a proper accent on one-to-one relationships in the Christian community…a whole glorious web of believer-to-believer relationships…small groups are necessary to provide opportunity and stimulus for such relationships… [And] In a sense, the Christian home is one of the structures of the church. In God’s intent, the church is the family of God and the family is the church of God. We must rethink the family on the basis of the biblical understanding of the Body of Christ. [H. Snyder, Radical Renewal, p. 112]


I’ve never heard Christian believers say, “I just want to be deeply connected and involved in a lousy church.” No. The opposite is true. We all say, “I want to be in a great church!” But often, we get the program confused with the mission. So, what’s the secret ingredient to being a part of a great church?


Christian community begins at home. Great churches are made through redeemed homes. If a home is passionate about Jesus, his presence fills that family and makes it his church. Really, the one, must-have ingredient of any church is the magnified presence of Jesus. And, if Jesus can be encountered like that in your home, the front door of your house becomes the front door of his church. I think Jesus even claims to be the Door to where we family (John 10:7,9).


The redeemed, Jesus-filled family — there’s just no other recipe like it on Earth.

 

Upcoming: a book recommendation & more beans on the screen.