It used to be that gas stations were service stations. You would stop by once a week, fill your tank with gas, get your fluids checked, chat with the attendant, and drive off. While service stations are not around much anymore, the service station mentality is alive and well in the church. But this is not God’s vision for the church.
Paul writes to Christians in Galatians 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” We’re called to follow the Holy Spirit before all people, but there is a special calling to the household of faith, the church. In the ancient world, the household was a combination of immediate family, extended family, and trusted servants. The household could be three or four generations, including dozens of people living, working, fighting, and worshiping together. It was a self-sufficient micro-society. This is a picture of community in the church, the household of faith.
Let’s consider seven ways to build this kind of household mentality in the local church.
- Be willing to grow in your understanding of biblical community. Begin by recognizing that most of us don’t have a very biblical understanding of community in the church. Listen to the Scriptures and grow in your understanding of God’s design for the church.
- Be willing to make an investment in the household of faith. If God is going to build authentic Christian community in the local church, it means each of us making an investment of time and energy. This won’t happen all at once; we’ll mature slowly over years. But you can begin today by committing to God, by his grace, to live out your biblical calling in faith.
- Ask God to change your heart. Confess any obstacles in your heart that might stop you from investing in Christian community. Maybe you’ve become engulfed in American individualism or believe a strong person is someone independent. Or maybe you have an almost exclusively personal view of spiritual life or a superficial view of relationships. Or maybe you’re crushed by busyness or driven by pride. Ask God to forgive you and change your heart. (Read more here about Seven Common Obstacles to Community in the Church.)
- Do good to everyone, especially those in the household of faith. Go back and read Galatians 6:10 in context. Walk in the Spirit. Sow the seeds of the Spirit generously, liberally – in the church, out of the church – with every opportunity.
- Take initiative to invest in specific relationships. Deep community can only happen with a handful of relationships. Look for a small group of people to live life with. Be open about struggles, pray, share, confess, laugh, serve, eat, grow together.
- Be purposeful to connect with those who are not like you. It’s easiest to connect with those similar to you, but don’t give into that. Young and old, single and married, white collar and blue collar – multi-generational, multi-racial, diverse relationships are a beautiful, biblical picture of the household mentality.
- Open your home. Americans tend to be very private about their homes. But your home belongs to God and it’s a gift to the church. In Rosaria Butterfield’s new book “The Gospel Comes with a House Key,” she warns that a culture of independence has invaded the Christian worldview and has created a breeding ground for loneliness in the church, especially among singles. Biblical hospitality – having people over, eating together, sharing life – is a powerful testimony to Gospel love.
Let’s look at the church like a household, not a service station, and let’s see how God can build authentic community among us!
Listen to a recent sermon related to this blog: Community & Investment