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National Back to Church Sunday
For the 'wired' community...
I was considering the idea of placing an advertisement on Facebook, Google, and possible Craigslist today; I would appreciate your opinions…
- FRIENDSHIP WANTED: Dependable, Reliable, willing to be involved in praying and sharing. No experience needed. Applicants must agree to an open, mutually fulfilling, and honest relationship. Lifelong commitment desired.
Why? A true revival of real friendship is overdue. The age of communication, Wi-Fi on the go, social networking, and mega churches with an overflow of events and activities should increase the sense of connection to others and increase meaningful relationships. However it appears the opposite is what we find. People are lonely and lonely A LOT. In fact Christianity Today reported in 2006 that the number of people who had a mid to large group of close friends was around 15%. (down from 33% in the past). This number will probably decrease even more significantly over time.
This may not seem like an earth shattering revelation unless we consider the after effects of loneliness. Many of us can point out a large number of bad decisions made from the fear of being ‘alone’ and lonely. There are many women and men that can attribute their decision to enter or return to bad dating relationships, visiting old hangouts rife with temptation, and even frequenting pornographic or questionable chat room sites that are not spiritually healthy. These choices give temporary salve to the lonely heart; yet can become addictive and spiritually or morally deadly.
Whether this loneliness is due to occasional situations such as moving to a new place or changing schools, shyness that prevents us from meeting new people, or from becoming “chronically lonely” (M. Mu, 2007, p.35). These chronically lonely ones have been out of connection with others so long they no longer care about friendship, and completely lose interest in developing in-depth relationships with others. Some chornically lonely people are this way due to past heartbreak, personality disorders, low self esteem, history of abuse, or other real issues that can be healed; yes, there is hope for the chronically lonely one who essentially becomes a hermit. Soon their personality is so offensive, mean, and rude, they repel people who might be the very friend they need. Who will take the time to reach them?
3rd Sunday Every September
A FEW TYPES OF FRIENDS FOR THE BELIEVER… (T.D. Jakes, 2008)
- CONFIDANT: They're For you...to help you reach your destiny. Will tell you when you are wrong and rejoice with you when you’re right. They will share life with you, will visit you in the ‘jail house’ and get you out of the ‘Crack House’ will lay across a sickbed and cry out in prayer for you.
- CONSTITUENTS: They're For what you are for. Work and walk with you. If they meet somebody else who will help them go further, they’ll leave you immediately. It was never about you.
- COMRADES: They're Against what you are against. They will come together for a cause, team up with you to fight a greater enemy. When you get the victory, they move on to their own agenda. They will leave you after a while.
The first few Sunday's of September can hold great opportunities for those who care about the lives of others; especially those who belong to smaller more intimate sized churches.
Each September hosts ‘National Back to Church Sunday’ This gives us a specific, organized, 'high day' to organize and reach out to all in our influence; inviting them for a time of worship. Also the promise of real connection with new like minded friends is available here too.
Colorful banners, professional invitations and freshly painted walls will help make them feel welcome. However it doesn't stop here. Just having a brand new 'body part' sitting next to us in our neatly decorated building is not the 'Call'. Filling churches with those who need the Lord is a requirement for Christian's who believe the Great Commission is truly a call to act; not just a good suggestion. If that is the end of our mission 'reach-em and get-em in a seat', or in other words to merely rack up as many 'points' as we can on our evangelistic dance card, is a fail-fail, not a win-win. Our invitation must include a call to true love, discipleship, and unitythat some forget about. The believer is 'Called' (there's that word again!) to love God with everything, and love our neighbor as our self. Increased Church stats is definitely not the goal, those are just products of loving and friendly relationships. Imagine the impact of evangelizing out of a motive to truly love. Our reaching out (or outreach if you prefer), done in order to personally connect 'them' to Christ, and 'us' to 'them'. These good works are evidence of the hope and faith we profess. We just might forget to take count of the new head's popping up over our comfy high back stadium-style-seats.
When they arrive at our meeting place (because we are the Church... not the building!), we open our arms to connect with them so they can become part of the Church too (again, not the building!). We set about introducing them to others who are like minded, helping them find small groups outside of our beautiful building's on Sunday. This is all done in order that we, like close brothers or sisters can call, text, email, and meet together Monday through Saturday. All of this righteous activity done in gratefulness for Christ's sacrifice. We might even care to share a communion meal with our new friends and soon to be family members:'the church'. There will be a wonderful sense anticipation for those who love the Christ and His Church, it's difficult to wait for the next meet-up at our 'building' on Sunday, as well as our future home in Glory!
It’s difficult to get rid of real friends like that. They just keep coming back for more. Even if the usher had coffee breath, or the choir was slightly off key (church music director here! I understand that's enough for some who are NOT yet family, to run for the hills, or at least a church with a better band). Even if the minister st-st-stuttered when he mistakenly quoted from the wrong text. They'll come back next Sunday even when little Suzy came home with 'pampers' when you sent her to the nursery with spare 'huggies'... Our new family members take interest in us, they don't mind forgiving the human short comings of ‘hypocrites’ like ‘us’ (the number one reason people give for NOT joining churches). Instead, they’ll back 'us' up and even get in ‘our ’ faces (like family does on occasion) when 'we' old-timer's forget and begin acting like Pharisee's instead of living in the freedom that has been given to us all. A mutual and true friendship that benefits 'us' as much 'them'.
Let me try that advertisement again...
- NEW CHURCH & CELL GROUP MEMBERS WANTED: Dependable, Reliable, willing to be involved in praying and sharing. No experience needed. Applicants must agree to an open, mutually fulfilling, and honest relationship. Lifelong commitment desired.
Friends to the End
FRIENDS by Whodini (1984) Hey, I know, a bit UNORTHODOX but I'm sure you understand the Point.
'Friends' (by Whodini 1984)
How many of us have them?
Ones we can depend on
How many of us have them?
Before we go any further, lets be
Is a word we use everyday
Most the time we use it in the wrong way
Now you can look the word up, again and again
But the dictionary doesnt know the meaning of friends
And if you ask me, you know, I couldnt be much help
Because A friend is somebody you judge for yourself
Some are ok, and they treat you real cool
But some mistake kindness for bein a fool
We like to be with some, because they're funny
Others come around when they need some money
Some you grew up with, around the way
And you're still real close too this very day
Homeboys through the Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall
And then there's some we wish we never knew at all
And this list goes on, again and again
But these are the people that we call friends...
John 17: 20-26
“….that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me…”
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity