It’s daunting to make new friends. Most of us fear rejection, or even worse, forgetting a face and re-introducing yourself to someone you met last week. But if you are one of those people who say they don’t know many people, ask yourself these questions:
1: Are you sitting in the same pew or seat every Sunday?
2: Are you hanging out with the same friends all of the time?
3: Do you only hang out with people who agree with you and like the same things as you?
4: Are you more likely to ‘like’ something from someone you barely know at church on Facebook rather than get to know them in real life at a deeper level?
An old saying exists, “10% of people do 90% of the work at church.” We expect so much from the leadership, even from each other, when we attend church. Most people I know put limitations on themselves. Often, its, “I’m not comfortable meeting new people,” that I hear the most.
I’m not comfortable meeting new people either. In fact, I have re-introduced myself to someone I had not seen in years, forgetting I knew her, and suffered embarrassment. The embarrassment didn’t kill me. I’m sure she has forgotten that incident. The other day I introduced myself to someone I thought was new. He had been attending our service for years. So you are more than likely to make these mistakes, but people are often forgiving. It’s the effort that counts.
The other day a pastor from Christ’s Church of the Valley said, “Ministry is everybody’s job.” Imagine what it would look like if we engaged the person one row down in a meaningful conversation after church? Some friendships don’t ignite on the first strike, others are merely embers that glow from the show of love by you, and some flame from an immediate connection. You won’t know unless you first strike that match and try.
Lord, help others find the courage to meet new people. Help them become that loving person you made them to be and give them the courage to face rejection or their fears. In Jesus Name, Amen.
What are you doing to make people feel loved at church?
Because it also excites, rewards, and brings joy.
Isn’t life funny that way? The one thing that tears our hearts to jagged pieces is something that also makes us buoyant and happy. The reward is in the journey and in the results of the ministry even if the results take a long time or the journey is hard.
Tell me your ministry stories.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””
Today I and my husband will be going out to gather prayer requests from the community before service. Pray for us.
Ever see the same group of people gather together and you wanted to be a part of that? You’d think that feeling would be left behind in high school, but as we grow older we reach out to gain mature friendships sometimes to our frustration.
We get lucky when we meet that kindred spirit; the one that shares so much in common that conversation isn’t a problem; you meet the quiet one who makes you nervous and you have to make all the conversation; the sweet one who can effortlessly unravel your entire life story within a few minutes; and others with their varied personalities that add to our life. But making friendships isn’t easy, especially for me.
What if we converted what we have learned about building online communities to building real life communities?
Why can’t everyone join the cool crowd? Isn’t that what Jesus is all about—sitting with liars and low-lifes and sinners like me, and learning to grow together in Christ?
What do you think? Will you ask that new person in church or in your group to coffee? Will you extend your conversation to someone new?
“Paul and Peter could disagree and still endorse one another in ministry because they both knew the unconditional love of Jesus. An awareness of being fully accepted by Him allowed them to speak the truth in love and challenge one another to faithfulness. A secure foundation in God’s unconditional love and acceptance allows us to trust God and one another. Treating others with unconditional love helps to build trusting relationships with family members, friends, co-workers, and community members. How will your words and actions reflect Christ’s unconditional love to others today.” June 1, Day 153, Lead Like Jesus Devotional
So when I got to work one morning, I discovered this in my email. God uses all sorts of ways to speak to me and this one hit me like a glacier.
Humbled, I turned my eyes upward and said, “Yes, God, I hear you.” It was an immediate answer to prayer and a reminder of the scripture that talks about how easy it is to love a friend, but its not so easy to love an enemy. We can still disagree and love each other because Christ first loved us.
When have you disagreed with a ministry? How did you cope with it?
It sounds like the place Anne Frank hid during an era when the Nazi’s exterminated the Jewish people, but this hiding place is different.
Years ago, my trust was violated in a situation that I had no control over. Without realizing the damage that was done and at times continues to be done, I continued in ministry without slowing down. The changes were subtle. The back pedaling was subtle. While many good changes occurred, many new things came to the surface. One of those was the lack of trust. I thought I lived the life of a transparent Christian, and online I did, exposing the imperfect in me to glorify God. In real life, however ministry became a wall. It became my hiding place.
Face to face with one person became more and more difficult in contrast to meeting with a group in a ministry setting. A lot of time was spent at home on my days off. I lived in isolation, preferring that to risking rejection with friends who may or may not be someone I could trust. I thought I had conquered fear, but fear took on a new face. A less than obvious face and it was the many small steps towards isolation that went undetected by everyone else, including myself; that is, until this month when a culmination of events caused me to examine my heart and it’s motivations. I had more acquaintances than actual friends. Online I could socialize like a squirrel on ten cups of espresso. In real life, I felt the shyness creeping in and while I saw other people’s walls, I failed to see my own that begun to grow stronger.
Recently, I told my husband that I needed to pull back and while serving in two good ministries (writing and praying), I need to also invest the time in real-life relationships, one on one, or even three on one, as long as it’s under friendship and not with an agenda.
The book “Transforming Prayer” by Daniel Henderson said it best when he quoted Lyle Schller who said, “We have become a society of solo sapiens.”
Techology is not inherently bad, but it is potentially isolating us when we were meant to come together in worship and fellowship. Our hearts will break. People will frustrate us, but isn’t it wonderful that we have an awesome God who is the Healer of all hearts? What men break, God puts back together.
There are so many things we do not know. We do not know if the economy will dip or if our team will win. We do not know what our spouse is thinking or how our kids will turn out. We don‘t even know “what we ought to pray” (Rom. 8:26). But according to the apostle Paul, we can be absolutely certain about one thing. We know …
“…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Max Lucado’s Christmas Newsletter
If the ‘Why Bother’ attitude comes calling, remember the above words and focus on that. I tell this to myself when I feel it coming on like a dark cloud that promises death and destruction. God bothers, and that’s why I should bother because God, ‘works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ Many times when I feel alone in something I have to re-focus upward instead of at my tired feet. God is doing something in my life and that’s why I bother.
So occasionally forgive me if I stop in my race, rest my hands on my knees, and breathe hard. I’m not quitting. I’m resting. I’m working on my endurance. I’ll be running again because God has planted something in me that just won’t quit.
When have you exhibited this attitude? And how do you recover?
You volunteer for everything, sing in the choir, teach Sunday School, serve on the parish board, and are in the men’s/women’s organization (or maybe two of them). You cook for the funerals, serve on retreat teams, and pretty much run, run, run. You look every bit as busy as your worldly counterparts, maybe busier, but there is a big difference. They are doing their activity for themselves or for their close circle of friends. You are doing your activity for God.
What could be more important than working to win souls for God’s Kingdom? After all, we are called to go out to all the world and tell the Good News, and the world is a big place.
In the midst of all of this “kingdom work,” however, you begin to sense something isn’t quite right. Suzy from the choir wants you to sing a solo next week at church. That’s worthy, right? Of course you can’t turn that down. And then Ben from the Good Deeds Club asks you to chair a committee for the upcoming fundraiser. They really need the money, and no one else wants to do it.
Peter from the Church Board has a great idea for setting up a website, and well, you have some training in doing that. And Anna from the Women’s Group is planning on doing a secondary Bible Study she would really love for you to attend.
Even you have limits. You can’t say yes to everything. But saying no to really worthwhile wonderful projects is often very difficult. You feel guilty for saying no. It feels like you aren’t just turning down the person asking, you are letting God down as well.
This is Satan’s favorite trap for well-meaning Christians. Only you can stay out of that trap. I can’t drag you out of it. Getting close to the threshold is different for each person. This brings me to another trap: comparisons. Oh, Satan loves to use this one!
When you get up the courage to say, No, thank you or No, I really can’t, Satan is right there to show you what a horrible Christian you are. How? By showing you all of the other Christians who seem so much better than you.
He’ll show you Tommy who organized the fund drive for the needy, and Felicia who sings not just for Sunday church but for all of the funerals and weddings as well. He’ll bring to mind Kathy who single-handedly fed all those people at the last get-together and Bill who would never think of turning someone away who asks for help.
I want you to hear me now: Not only can you not do everything, but you really can’t do everything that six or ten or 30 other people are doing. Yes, they may be doing a lot, but even they are not doing everything.
God never asked you to be His slave. He wants you to be His child. More than that, He wants to be your best friend. He wants you to be YOU! Not Peter and Felicia and Bill and Anna. YOU!
It is important, especially for well-meaning, well-intentioned Christians to take a good, hard look at their service. What really makes you feel alive? What makes you feel so much closer to God? Whatever that is (or those things are), do them. Then carve out margin between you and your service. After all, even God rested on the seventh day!
A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe every week with her various Internet endeavors including:
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Come on over for a visit…
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Why don’t I ever make time to pray before I head to a Praise and Coffee meeting? Why don’t I ever pray over a meeting in which I’m assuming God will be present? I make a lot of assumptions about God. I assume God will be there in our group meetings. He usually shows up. I never ask Him. I assume God will safeguard our church gatherings. I never ask Him.
Family parties used to make me angry. No one asked me if I was available. I was told when and where and expected to show up. If I didn’t come to a specific number of gatherings or I was going to be late, they attempted to apply guilt trips on me and played the wounded victim well. I wonder if I ever treated God that way. If a gathering doesn’t occur the way I think it ought, do I blame Him? Do I begin to negotiate for a better outcome? Do I try to make Him feel guilty? All these thoughts came rushing to me today after I read this:
A couple of weeks ago, I awoke with excitement. It was my first day to teach Reflecting Him at WoodsEdge Community Women’s Bible Study Group in The Woodlands. As I lay there I started praying over the women; asking God to connect our hearts. I meditated on the “Focus Verse” for Reflecting Him, “And we, with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness from ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:18. (Carla McDougal, “Still Laughing, Live For Him”)
She awoke with excitement and began immediately praying over the women. I feel like such an inconsiderate slob. I enthusiastically get all the “gifts of encouragement” together, plan out every detail of a Praise and Coffee, and never stop once to ask God to come along. It also brought to mind something our pastor taught about Moses. Moses didn’t want to go into the land of milk and honey without God. Even though God would keep His promise in spite of Israel’s disobedience, Moses and his people didn’t want to have all that and not have God with them.
There’s something different about a gathering when you’ve asked God to join you. It’s happened to me. God is invited and the whole energy of the group changes. In fact, amazing things can happen in a group when God is invited. It’s like He put His lampstand in the room and everyone is aglow. I’m all ready asking Him to come with us through the every day, but now I want to take it up a notch and ask Him specifically for a special gathering. What about you? Will you ask God to show up? Or do you just expect Him to attend?