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True Community


True community is born from ‘love that risks the sorrow of rejection for the love of acceptance. Community implies participation; participation implies action.’ True community means walking in the light, being open, and perhaps vulnerable with one another. Perfect love casts out fear. The root of war, Thomas Merton has taught us, is fear. Niceness is sometimes a cover-up, hiding our anger, resentment, unforgiveness. When fellowship is broken, there are nine principles to help mend personal communications: (1) Confess it all to the Lord. Present the whole mess to him. And God will forgive you. (2) Always take the initiative, always. Our pride will say, ‘It’s her problem. She will have to come to me.’ (3) Do it quickly. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. (4) Meet the person face to face. The telephone or a note may be a cop-out. (5) Do it in genuine love. ‘Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ’ (Eph. 4:32). (6) Go in the spirit of peace and reconciliation. Go, having already forgiven the other in your heart. Go with the single goal of establishing peace. Make it a healing process, not retaliation. Beware of one-upmanship. You don’t have to win anything. (7) Confess, apologize, and ask forgiveness. Don’t justify yourself. Don’t be defensive. Pray ahead of time. And remember the other’s apology isn’t a prerequisite to your forgiveness. (8) Let this end the matter. Don’t dwell on it. It is finished. (9) Forgive others endlessly. Don’t be a ‘nice’ Christian hiding all kinds of simmering sins underneath.

Small Groups

A survey of 1100 mid-west American congregations found that their growth, health and vitality were a function of the number of small groups where people found nurture, acceptance and meaning. # Small groups are microcosms of the church – they exist for worship, community, formation, and mission. This means they have a time of praise and adoration and renewal of commitment to the Lord each time they meet. They laugh and cry together. They hold one another accountable for each others’ spiritual growth. And they have at least one serious mission concern. # There ought to be some form of commitment, covenant, with one another. Such a covenant might comprise up to eight ingredients: affirmation, availability, prayer, openness, honesty, sensitivity, confidentiality, and accountability.

Ten Commandments For Hosting Visitors

A church that has no visitors, or fails to welcome its visitors, will have no new members. Where there is no new life, there is death. Study, therefore, and apply the following to your Church experience, for, Jesus said, ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’ (John 13:35). 1. Visitors do us an honour by choosing to attend our services. They are our honoured guests, and, as such, are VIPs. 2. Visitors belong in and to our fellowship. They are not outsiders or intruders, but opportunities for us to express the love of Jesus. 3. Our visitors are not cold statistics. They are flesh and blood human beings, with feelings that can be hurt easily, and with a need to sense the love of Christ through us. 4. Our first responsibility, before ever gathering with friends or in familiar groups, is to be sure that all visitors have been welcomed and drawn in to the fellowship and sharing. 5. We ought always to take the initiative to approach, and welcome all visitors with a warm, friendly smile and hand shake, to make our guests feel at ease. 6. Our visitors are deserving of the most courteous and attentive treatment we can give them. 7. They are not persons with whom to argue or match wits. 8. They bring their needs. We are entrusted with meeting those needs prayerfully, courteously, and to the best of our ability. 9. Our visitors have the right to expect that we have adequately prepared for them. Neatness, cleanliness, appropriateness, and attractiveness are not optional to hosts who honour the Lord in Christian hospitality. 10. The warmth of our friendship will mean that visitors feel unknown and uncomfortable no more than once, that is, during the initial stages only of their first visit to our Church. – The Canadian Baptist


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