I’ll be perfectly honest here that I have no previous experience or expertise on what a gang is really like. My only perceptions are those I see on TV, but I think I know enough to understand the idea that the members of a gang are a close-knit group, really close. They are close because they cultivate an identity that tells them who they are and what they should do. You’re probably already wondering… What’s with all the gang talk? I started with that to ask you this… Should the church function more like a gang (minus all the crime) and less like what we’ve come to know as church (generally speaking)?
I’m prompted to ask this question because I came across the following paragraphs in a book I’m reading called “Letters to the Church” by Francis Chan. Check these out and see how it hits you…
I share these to challenge you and stretch your thinking. Some of you probably feel really connected to The Grove or whatever church you’re a part of. Others may feel loosely connected and more like an observer from a distance. Perhaps you just treat church as simply an optional weekly, impersonal meeting. Regardless of how you feel or see yourself within the context of a church, the deeper issue relates to your understanding of who God says you are. You see, to identify as a Christian but adopt a spectator view of the church is not what God intended. While our American culture gives off a certain perspective on church which impacts how people see their role in the church, this adaptation of the church doesn’t mean it’s healthy and what God desires.
In this same book, the author says, “Obedience often grates against our natural desires, but if we obey only when it feels natural, then Jesus is not truly Lord of our lives. What often results from obedience, however, is unexpected blessing.”
With these things being said, what is your next step? How can you begin to build a closer connection with the people you call your “church family?” You may have to take some “unnatural” steps so your interaction with the church (the people) can start to feel more natural. Here are a few ideas to jump start you’re thinking, but I’d encourage you to pray over this and let the Holy Spirit guide you forward…
- Arrive earlier and/or don’t rush out… Instead of arriving after the service has already started and/or being the first one out the door afterwards, connect with some people. Have a conversation. The 5-10 minutes of sleep you’ll lose by arriving early will be a distant memory when compared to good conversation you can have with someone. The few minutes delay on lunch fails in comparison to the opportunity to spend time with someone who may need your encouragement and guidance after the service ends.
- Get connected… Take the next step of getting more connected by serving or joining a group. Yes, the Sunday celebration/gathering has its place and should be an exciting time, but the church is so much more than that. Use your gifts and passion to serve others. Prioritize connecting with others in an intentional way that equips you to grow as a disciple and make other disciples.
- Interact with people beyond Sunday morning… Take an intentional step and have coffee with someone. Grab breakfast before work or lunch during the day. Get families together and let the kids have some fun while the adults play cards. The possibilities are endless, but take the initiative and interact with people beyond Sunday morning.
- Pray for others (you’ll have to know what to pray for)… As you talk to people, find out how you can be praying for them. Then, pray for them all week. Maybe even follow up during the week to see how they are doing. The next time you see them, let them know you’ve been praying and see how things are progressing.
Back to the original question… Should the church be more “gang-like?” Yes, the church should have some gang-like qualities. We are in this thing called “church” together as Christ followers. It’s not about you as an individual nearly as much as it is about us/we as the church. You are a part of it, but you’re not fully connected if your primarily in isolation.