Posts Tagged ‘Community’

A need for Community and Worship

July 28, 2011 1 comment

After a long time, I am finally back writing again. This summer has brought a busy schedule and not much time for writing, or thinking for that fact. However, as things are slowing down, I was glad to have the opportunity to start writing again.

This week in the social network realm of reality, a friend stated something to effect of “back from an amazing retreat, now back to real life.” After reading this, I became concerned.

You see, what my friend expressed in 140 characters, was quite a statement. It was something that I have struggled with for years. Ever since my first retreat in high school, I have wondered when a person arrives back home from a week away, why we feel as though we have arrived back into reality. This is very troubling for me because I know that “reality” is and can be what ever you want it to be. Don’t worry, I am trying to be metaphysical or anything like that. I am not trying to convince you that their chair your sitting in, isn’t really there. What I am trying to convince you of is the fact that the reality we experience in a retreat can be realized in the reality once back at home.

After years of processing this, the answer finally came clear to me. Their are two primary reasons that retreats give the exhilaration of a high. While there are many other reasons that people latch on to, it all boils down to two reasons. These two things are something each of desperately need. These two things are some God designed us for and meant for us to experience in our daily life.

Most kids come back from a retreat thinking that the media had something to do with coming close to God. Maybe it helped, but I doubt this was the primary reason. Some kids believe that the smoke and lights brought them close to God. Well, again, not likely. While some may have inhaled too deeply and experienced some kind of enlightened feeling, it wasn’t one of the two core reasons.

God created us for two primary reasons. These two reasons can initially be found in the book of Genesis in the garden, and then through every book and every chapter of the Bible after that. These two things are: worship and community.

We were created for worship. God created us to worship him. It’s in our being. It wasn’t until that first sin when this became a challenge for man. Worship is at our core and when we enter into worship with others, we feel it. Worship is like coming back home. It gives you that peaceful feeling that not much else can give to you. So, when these retreats are filled with worship, its no surprise that these people are on a high because they feel that closeness with God.

The second purpose is community. Community is also found in the very beginning. Once man was created, the first thing that God said of man was “It is not good for man to be alone.” God spoke truth. We were never meant to be alone, to live life alone, or to walk with God alone. He created us for community. These retreats provide a week away with peers for and gives one a heightened sense of community. From Adam walking with God in the garden to Jesus meeting with His disciples in the other garden, we were meant to be with one another.

So when my friend thinks that after experiencing a week of worship and community he needs to get back to real life, I think that he is actually leaving real life. Most of us live in a world of busyness and avoid worship and community on this level. What if we made the commitment to experience worship and community on a weekly basis like we do when we are away? Worship and Community aren’t two complicated things, they are the two primary needs that God designed us to have. So when we don’t experience these on a daily basis, we are running away from what God intended for us.

In closing, I want to challenge my friend (and you) with this thought. Don’t look at returning home as coming back to reality. Look at it as a challenge to continue in reality. Reality is what you make it. God intended our reality to be filled with worship and community. Gather with friends and make it a point to walk with God and worship Him with all you have. The lights and the video, while cool, are not what brings you close to God. It is walking with Him just as Adam did in the garden and the disciples did in the other garden. So from garden to garden, let’s actively participate in worship and community and truly experience what reality is!


Community is Everything

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

The last week has been full of conversations about life, death, marriage, divorce, and everything that might in between. In all this, I have realized once again how much of a need we all have for community. We have a need for friends that understand our needs. We have a need for companions who are with us through thick and thin. Whatever state of life we are in, community is everything. I have attended two funerals in the last 4 days. In the midst of these funerals I have had several conversations about life and death.

Life is always worth living, but then again, most of us know this. Whether we are in a season of loss and grief or in a season of joy and laughter. Life is a gift from our Creator and a gift that we should hold carefully each and every day. However, a life lived without the joy of sharing it with another is no life at all. Life in isolation is not a life living up to its design.

All life does come to an end and its in that end that we truly discover what life was all about. Whether we are reading an obituary of events gone by or if we are reminiscing about a parent or a friend or a loved one and all the good times, we know that life is finally realized when it is too late. Those whom we join together with in this life are too often taken for granted until they are gone. Then we realize the emptiness that a friend who is no longer their leaves behind.

Community is everything. If you are not sharing this life with others, think about how you want to be remembered. Do you want to be remembered as someone who shared their life with others or as someone who wasn’t really known? Now’s the time to become exactly who Christ intended you to be. Now is the time to discover what life is all about!

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Reaching the Masses

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment

I love all the conversation about how to effectively minister to so many people at once. Think about this…20 years ago, we could only minister to people whom we were seeing face to face. Hopefully most of you are old enough to remember this time. It was just shortly after the dinosaurs disappeared.

Anyways, nowadays things are very different. We reach people in a number of ways. We reach people through email, through Facebook, through twitter, through blogs and you tube posts, etc. Are any of these effective though? Well, maybe. I think the online world has given us the opportunity to spread a few more seeds. What I mean is we used to have to hand sprinkle the seeds as we went along. Now, the internet has given us an opportunity to utilize a spreader! Ah yes, a giant seed spreader!

Don’t get me wrong, nothing can or should ever replace human contact. I believe that we should really be making our greatest impacts in this way. How can we use both methods effectively? That is the real question.

You probably all have friends and acquaintances that dabble in the online world. Reach out them and then bring them in to real face to face contact. You see, this is the core of the who we are. It’s about the ability to build relationships with one another. It’s sharing the good news with the person right in front of you.

If you are lost in the online world, its time you made contact with flesh and blood. It’s time you responded to how God created you. He did not create you to be alone. And yes, even though you have 800 friends on Facebook, it is possible for you to be alone. We are meant to live in community, we are meant to be in the presence of other people who can know more about us than our activities, our likes and our political and religious view and of course our latest relationship status.

If you are in the Grand Island area, or if you have friends who need to be with people, tell them about our next Group Connection Event on December 12th. Just click on the Group Connection link above. It’s time to show them what real relationships are all about!

Isolation: from God or satan?

Why is it that we isolate ourselves? We are surrounded by people. In fact there are now over 6 billion people on this earth and yet too often, we feel like we are all alone. This is not how God created us. We work ourselves to death, we go home and hide in our homes only to hope that no one will discover our weaknesses. We pray that our despair will go unnoticed and yet when we show up in church on Sunday morning, acting like everything is OK, it seems like everyone can see through us.

Is this the life that you desire to live? One that is deeply rooted in privacy and isolation and solitude? Do you desire to be alone? Even your spouse can’t figure out why you won’t talk about your day. They want you to open up, but your so sealed up because that is what you’re told to do. You’re told that know one wants to hear your problems or if you were to share them you’d be ridiculed. This is what satan wants in your life. To leave you alone and in despair.

So what does God want of you? Acts 2:42-47 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Can you read this passage and think that God wants you to be alone? If you do, you’ve completely missed the picture. By the way, your time with your family, while important and necessary, is not a replacement to community with the body of Christ.

God has called every believer, everyone who claims the name of Christ to take part in something much greater then themselves. He calls up to participate with other believers in fellowship, in breaking of bread, in prayer. He calls us to have everything in common. Nothing is held back, our lives are an open book. He calls us to provide for one another’s needs. To meet together in temple courts and in to meet in homes. Isolation has not part in the life of a Christian. Isolation is a lie that we are fed by satan and this world.

If you are living in isolation from the body, now is your time to step into the life that Christ has called you to. Now is the time to live the life that He gave us through His death on the cross.

And when believers come together in all things praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people, the Lord adds to their number daily those who are being saved. The life Christ came to give is one that should never be put under a shade or covered up. It’s a life to let shine!

This is Your time!

We’ve been getting some really great traffic on this blog! Thank for reading!

If you are one of the readers out there and feel like you are disconnected from what LIFE groups are about, or if you are missing out on that week to week community with others in a small group, please let me know! I’d love to get you plugged in.

LIFE groups are not centered around curriculum, nor are the centered around a schedule. They are centered around community with others. This means coming to a place where people really know you. They are praying for you, and you for them. It’s a place where you are able to feel like you can break down those walls that may be up around you.

Unlike are are Adult Ed, which are designed for connecting people and curriculum, LIFE groups will join you with others who will genuinely care and support you, keep you accountable, and help you through the tough times in life as well as celebrate the joys in life.

Being a part of small group community is not an extracurricular item, its something Jesus did when He joined with the twelve. It’s how the church was built and its how the church is sustained today. If you are serious about taking the leap and diving in deep, contact me today and let’s talk about the next step for you.

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What are LIFE groups?

LIFE groups are small group communities in which people like you and me are actively seeking out how to follow Christ every day. We’ve established four main areas in which we can do this. These four areas make up the acronym, LIFE. Living for Christ, Inspiring others through that lifestyle, Fellowshipping with other believers, and encouraging those around us. This methodology brings not only clarity to our vision, but it also brings a purpose that is understood by all.

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Changing our habits on Sunday School and Small groups

I’ve had a number of conversations over the last several weeks with folks who have been finding it difficult to change their habits and beliefs on Sunday School and small groups. For many years, the standard was to go to church and then Sunday School. It’s what every good christian did. Today is different. Today’s focus leans more on the importance of connection and community. Today’s models of connectivity lead to get the most out our small groups.

Many churches today have even gone as far as abandoning Sunday School altogether for the sake of small groups. While this is successful for those churches we are striving to keep both around at Third City. The key element is to learn in Sunday School, but to invest in Small Groups.

This is a hard line to cross for many. However, if you consider it for a moment, Christ has called us to four levels of discipleship: Following Him for our Salvation, in our lifestyles, fellowship with His body, and serving others. The key to this is the word fellowship. Someone said that fellowship is not just a name of a room. I think for years fellowship has been viewed as joining with friends after church for coffee.

I think that is only a very small meaning. The book of Acts shows us that fellowship was devoting oneself to the apostles teaching, breaking bread with one another daily, and prayer amongst other activities. It said they met in homes, which was out of necessity at the time, but the point was the many different communities who were connecting through out the city on a daily basis. Our view on connectivity is one that encourages people to go far beyond just learning in Sunday School but we encourage people to find real community with a small group. Real community contributes to real, well rounded spiritual and relational growth.