This episode’s content was a little jumbled in our approach. If you couldn’t tell, sometimes we’re not prepared with a topic. Although we don’t do it often, there are times we get on to record and just wing it to see where the conversation goes. This time it took us to talking about the importance of pursuing relationships for the sake of community.
But First, Marriage Relationships
In pre-show we did talk about the fact that we both knew a number of people, both Christian and not, who are currently in various stages of marital harmony, some having pretty serious distress. Whether there is anything helpful in that or not, we included it because it does have to do with relationships and we both believe that community is one of the best places to walk through those difficulties. In fact, we’ve seen first hand the role community can play in healing and creating wholeness in marriages.
The main topic had to do with the fact that Thomas wasn’t putting in the effort to pursue meaningful relationships. His wife actually had to tell him to begin pursuing meaningful friendships. I’m not sure what she’s doing, but my take on it is that I’m all the friend he needs. Her argument is worth considering. Check it out…
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In this week’s episode we open with Bruce making fun of Thomas’ wife’s, Angy, cross wall. Thomas said Bruce was hurting his feelings, which was the perfect segway into this week’s topic.
This week we are talking about hurt. Specifically, we discuss the fact that if we chose to live in authentic Gospel Centered Community with others, we can expect to be hurt and come face-to-face with other people’s hurts.
Your Hurts and Community
There isn’t a lot of show notes for this topic. Let’s leave it at this.
Community is a great place to come and put your hurt on the table. By doing so, it allows those closest to you to take it off the table and help you carry it. Community is also a great place to grieve with those that are hurting. And, Community is the perfect place to experience Jesus, find healing for your hurts and help others heal.
With St. Valentine’s Day being just two days ago, this is easily one of the most lonely weeks for some. Mostly because everything surrounding this holiday involves being with someone you love. But, not everyone has someone. In fact, so many deal with loneliness. Not only do we have to deal with loneliness, we often struggle through different levels of loneliness. It’s this loneliness that causes us to seek out relationships with others and can often lead to unhealthy decisions surrounding who we spend time with and who we chose to commit ourselves to.
That’s what we’re talking about in this episode. Thomas mentioned the importance of understanding the role that loneliness plays in bringing us to church, drawing us into a dating relationship and eventually marriage. We go on to talk about how being lonely can be the foundation we use to make excuses to allow ourselves to consider divorce as an option. So, let’s talk about being lonely…
Why are Christians Lonely?
We talked about a couple different reasons. The bigger reason lies within the separation created from Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden. That event created a gap in our relationships that we have been trying to close ever since.
The other reason is a bit closer to home and, we believe, has to do with the way that mainstream (institutional) church is structured. Unfortunately, church, as a system, does not often lend itself to offering authentic and close relationships. Some of the loneliest Christians are those sitting among a 2,000 person congregation. Sadly, the way we structure traditional church actually feeds the needs of the organization, but fails to fulfill the needs of the organisms within the walls.
So people come to church hoping for connection and believing they will find it in the group. But, when the superficiality of that connection becomes evident, they decide that maybe the group isn’t intended for connection and their loneliness convinces them that they can find fulfillment in an individual. So they find someone, and date, then marry… even if they don’t get along with the person, being with someone is better than being alone. Until it isn’t.
The Second Level of Loneliness
The second level of lonely occurs after marriage. It often comes with the realization that the person you married cannot fill that desire for connection. Really only God can, but at this point you’re less concerned with that and more concerned with how to get out of the misery. This is typically when people, who may have never previously considered divorce, talk themselves into it being the “only way” or the “best decision for everyone involved”. So we ignore the bible and do what we feel will alleviate our suffering. (To be fair, sometimes divorce may be a necessary thing. We’re not broad stroke painting divorce.)
God Doesn’t Leave
God’s message to everyone, all the time is, “I will never leave you.” We may feel alone, but if we’re in Christ, we’re not; in fact, it’s impossible for us to be. God’s word is clear…
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6
A Note to Singles (But really to the church)
Church, two things.
Stop expecting single people to figure out where they fit into the body. Go find them and welcome them in.
Stop making marriage the highest form of worship or holiness or whatever we make it. There’s a ton to this, but stop acting like the thing singles should aspire to is marriage. Just invite them in and be companionship for them.
For the better part of 5 years, Thomas and I have been talking about church outside of the four walls of a building. We have fleshed the process out quite a bit. Thomas has even had the opportunity to implement some of it. And, over the past year of this podcast, we have thrown the word “community” around quite a bit. So we decided it was time that we explain what we mean when we talk about community.
The Community We Teach
We teach a purpose toward ministry called, “Gospel Centered Community” (GCC) and a method of ministry called, “Gospel Centered Missional Community” (GCMC).
In a nutshell, GCC as a heart for intentionally living toward others. And if GCC is an intent to live toward others, GCMC is the missional outworking of that intent. A big focus of GCMC is making disciples who make disciples.
Practically speaking, the focus of GCC is on receiving the love of God and and the focus of GCMC is on revealing the love of God.
Gospel Centered Community (GCC)
This a body of committed believers, connected by a shared purpose and vision to see Jesus glorified and who challenge each other into deeper relationships with Jesus and one another.
Gospel Centered Missional Community (GCMC)
This is the practical outworking of GCC and is focused on cultivating disciples who make connected disciples.
In the coming weeks I plan to release a five-week series, on my personal BLOG, that lays out the process I plan on working though to build this type of community. Soon after that, we’ll have an ebook to accompany it.
For this episode Thomas and Bruce decided to not limit the show to one topic. Instead they came up with a list of questions and gave some quick-ish answers, then moved on. Here’s that list and their short answers.
In your view, what are the top two issues facing The Church and Christianity today?
De-coupling politics from the core of Christianity and dealing with the old church (what the church has been) and the new church (what the church is becoming).
The way the church has defined community and confusion surrounding discipleship.
Is there a crisis involving discipleship? Why or why not? Where should we pinpoint our attention?
Yes. We need to focus on what it means to follow.
Yes. We need to convince the average Christian that our focus should be on being discipled, versus our conversion.
Between traditional church, home church and seeker-friendly church, what is authentic ecclesia?
Thomas explained the three different types of church. Bruce broke down authentic ecclesia and it’s long. But in a nutshell… starts in the home and builds genuine gospel centered missional community, moves toward multiple groups consistently gathering with each other to celebrate the good things of God and what he’s done, is doing and going to do and culminates with those individual communities impacting their close geographical areas for the Gospel.
Is Sunday an effective platform for evangelism?
It’s an okay place, but not really the best place.
No. The corporate gathering should be focused on equipping the believer.
What is one teaching that is burning inside you right now?
Forgiveness is not intended for your conscious.
Heart space, home space and life space and how institutional church does it backwards.
That’s the episode! Please rate us on iTunes and share the show with your friends.
Recently Pastor Perry Noble was fired from NewSpring Church, the church he founded. And, with other firings, like that of Darrin Patrick, are we creating a church structure that sets Pastors up to fail? What steps can we take to make sure that pastors can share their brokenness in a grace filled community?
There seems to be an epidemic with no end in sight. But, it’s an epidemic that the Church should be looking to Jesus for answers about how to stop.
Ultimately the answer lies in the community of fellow believers that Christ called us to live in. A community where brokenness can be admitted and grace can abound. One where the goal is repentance and restoration and the hope is that Christ shines through.
When our goal becomes a the creation of an organization rather than the nurturing of an organism, people are bound to fail. At the end of the day firing someone from an organization typically doesn’t include restoration, but the organism of community always hopes for and seeks reconciliation.