Experience, enjoy, share and proclaim the transforming love of God
A Welcoming Community
The other day I was chatting with a young mum; she was telling me how the Church she attended had helped her turn her life around, through tears of joy she told me that she never thought it could be like this, that she now felt free from all that had been weighing her down. It had taken a lot of love, care and compassion for her to come to the point of wanting to know more about Jesus, but it was knowing Jesus that had made the huge difference in her life. It was lovely to hear her story, and I am hearing more and more of these stories.
A letter from Andy Frost of Share Jesus International is worth reflecting on: “over the last few years I have seen churches connect brilliantly with their community and present the Gospel faithfully. What's interesting is that some churches have grown numerically whilst others have not.”
“The churches that have grown saw mission as an opportunity to invite people to come to a faith in Jesus but also to belong to their church community. They held onto their doctrine but they were willing to re-think some of the ways they were doing church to accommodate those unfamiliar with some of the jargon and the tradition of how they had been doing church. They took time to explain why they did what they did. They were willing to answer questions during the church service. They were willing to adapt their worship style to connect with their new friends. There was a depth of relationship with those they had connected with, that meant that they were becoming part of the family.”
“But the churches that have not grown saw mission as a bolt on to what they were already doing. Mission became an activity they did rather than relationships they were investing in. When it comes to faith sharing, mission is not enough. Our gatherings need to offer a warm welcome to newcomers with the opportunity to form deep relationships. Our gatherings need to foster a deep sense of community, that is so often missing in a digital age. Our gatherings, against the backdrop of a broken and divided culture, need to prophetically paint a picture of one family of different ethnicities, ages and backgrounds. Our gatherings need to be places where we can all be known and belong. It's when mission is coupled with a welcome community that offers belonging, that people can truly embark on a life of following Jesus.”
May we never forget the difference Jesus makes, and as we move towards the cross, and then joy of new life at Easter, can we commit to being willing to lay down some of our ways of doing things, so that others can experience the joy of a life with Jesus.