Doing life together seems to elude far too many churches. We live our lives in little circles of friends, or centered on our jobs, centered on our families, or filled with other activities, but we fail to engage in deeper fellowship with our fellow believers.
No wonder people can be in our churches for years and never have any real friends.
Monica Geyen wrote recently about an interview she had on this topic:
- “Is the church breeding loneliness? Rosaria Butterfield answers yes.
“She believes we have declared independence from each other in our culture and, sadly, in our churches. Once upon a time, the church was ‘of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common’ (Acts 4:32). Shared time, shared food, shared possessions. Shared identity. They were the early church — a family bound together by the blood of Jesus.
“Many of our churches today have left behind that picture of the family of God, though. The contemporary Western church’s ‘absolutely low or nonexistent culture of family of God’ has fostered an unparalleled depth of loneliness, with single women in particular buried at the bottom.”
- Reading the above, what is your impression of the friendliness, family-like fellowship of Waikoloa Baptist? Does it exist? Is it biblically healthy? Vibrant? Or something else? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Let me ask you this: When is the last time you invited someone from church to your home or out to eat, whom you’ve never reached out to before? ___________________________________________________________
Notice I didn’t ask you when the last time was that someone invited you? That’s the wrong question. Being a church member means responsibility, and you and I are each responsible before God for being in fellowship with our church family.
The thrust this week was that Jesus called disciples to follow Him, to learn theology, and to help do the work of spreading the Good News of His coming Kingdom. But, it wasn’t just classroom training they received from Him, but deep companionship and love:
- John 15:12-17 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another.”
- Who at Waikoloa Baptist would you consider to be your friends? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Does your definition include regularly hanging out with them, investing in them, pouring your soul out to them? _________________________________________________________
- “I know what it’s like to feel lonely.
“The worst thing is to be in a group of people and feel alone. I used to feel this way at church, especially out on the plaza after the service. I was lost in the middle of a sea of people.”—Dr. Bill Gualtiere
Let me ask you, how many of our church guests feel welcomed by the time a service has ended? Each visitor (usually marked out by a seashell lei that Todd has placed around his/her neck) is either coming to A). find a short-term place to fellowship and worship while on vacation, or B). find a long-term place to possibly join since moving into Waikoloa. Did you reach out to any and say, “Hi”? Did you ask what brought them to our church? And, when service is over, did you reach back out to them to talk to them and maybe offer to take them out to eat? Did you show Christian love or fleshly, even satanic apathy?
Hospitality is more than some secular concept of “Aloha”, especially for the Christian with the Spirit of God within. I’ve received more friendliness in many secular venues than in many of the churches I’ve visited over the years. I fear we as a “Christian” culture have become too self-consumed to actually care about other people. If this wasn’t true, then visitors to our church and countless others would feel loved and embraced. Sadly, the lost world finds most churches to be cold and distant when they visit. I think they have something there.
- This week I am going to challenge you to stop looking at the Sunday meeting as quick-in/quick-out affair, or a time to just converse with your friends. Reach out like Jesus reached out, show true Christian hospitality, and truly engage our visitors. Don’t let them leave without letting them know you appreciated them coming.
- I am also challenging you this week to find people in the church you don’t really know or barely spend time with and to invite them into your life. Simon & Garfunkel may have sung “I am a rock, I am an island”, but that is a foreign concept for Christianity. In fact, reality is 50% of our church is lonely! (based on the national average from research done by Cigna). 50%!!!! You need fellowship as well as your brothers and sisters at WBC. We must no longer live fake Christian lives and begin to be a true church family!