Scriptures

Our Relationship With Our Church Family

Introduction

A husband and wife were having a personal conversation and as the wife was feeling a little bit insecure, she asked her husband, ‘how would you describe me?’ the husband thought for a moment knowing she was feeling a little insecure about herself and said, ‘I would describe you as, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K.’ His wife asked, ‘but what does that mean?’ And so, the husband looked her deep into her eyes and said, ‘it stands for, adorable, beautiful, cute, delightful, elegant, fashionable, gorgeous, and hot.’ His wife started crying, gave him a hug and said, ‘oh thank you, that’s means so much to me right now, but what about I, J, and K?’ The husband turned around and said, ‘I’m just kidding!’

I believe that most people feel insecure at times and every now and then they need someone to come along and give them a hug. And if there were ever a group of people who need a hug more than most, I think its Christians, especially our young Christians.

Over the weekend, we’ve looked at the importance of having a good relationship with God, our parents, our Christian and non-Christians friends. And today I want to talk to you about our relationship with our church family.

Because I believe this is one of the most powerful weapons we have as Christians, yet it seems to be the most neglected. You all should have a piece of paper which represents your spiritual relationship investment banks. And as we go through this lesson, you’ll see how much spiritual investment time you invest in your church family but please be honest with yourself.

Relationships are all about investments, the more you put into them, the more you get out of them. Let’s get our spiritual relationship investment banks moving, you get two points for answering ‘yes’ and minus one point for answering ‘no’.

Let me ask you, do you attend worship most Sundays? Two points for ‘yes’, minus one point for ‘no’.

Do you know everyone who regularly goes to the place where you worship? You get one point if you know at least half of them. Do you listen to and say amen to all the prayers?

Do you actually sing the hymns during worship? Miming the words doesn’t count.

Do you participate in the Lord’s Supper? Do you listen to the sermon?

Do you open your Bible to read along with the Scripture reading?

Do you put money in the offering?

Remember these are all activities we do together as a church family, not as individuals. Now church is an unusual place for many people but if there’s one place which is more unusual than others, I would say it would be a lift or an elevator as some people call them. I say unusual because it’s one of those places where people pack themselves into it, like a bunch of sardines.

You’re squeezed in, up close and personal with a bunch of people you’ve never met before and the last thing you want to do is touch anyone. But not only can’t you touch anyone, you don’t look anywhere except up or you keep your eye on the numbers until they get to the floor you want to get off.

Now let me ask you, have you ever noticed two people talking whilst walking into a lift, but once they enter the lift they stop talking?

I mean, strange things go on in lifts and I remember a few years ago, my friends and I were about to get into a lift and the door opened. The lift was full of people who just gave us that look, you know the kind of look I’m talking about, don’t you? The kind of look that says, ‘hey this lift is full, you’re not going to try and squeeze in here, are you?’ But we did anyway, and my friend Jim was last to squeeze in but he couldn’t turn around and so he ended up facing the door.

A few seconds later as the lift was going up, he said in a very loud voice, ‘you might have wondered why we called this meeting today!’ Well, that was that, everyone in that lift just burst out laughing but what was even more amazing is that everyone actually started talking to one another.

You see in many ways, that lift is like a little glimpse of what life is like in the world. People have become impersonal, isolated and independent. It shows us that people can be surrounded by other people in a crowded setting, but not experience community. It’s almost as if we can be a part of a company, a club, or a church but we still don’t feel like we belong or are accepted in it. We can share a worship place, an office, a classroom and even a home and still not have significant relationships.

Let’s get back to your spiritual relationship investment banks, let me ask you, do you feel a part of a church family? Do you have a strong relationship with some members of your church family? Not including your physical family.

Do you feel needed within your church family?

The apostle Paul was born in Tarsus, educated in Jerusalem, lived in Damascus, spent his formative time in the desert, moved to Antioch, and that was only the beginning. As an apostle, he ventured out from Antioch on three extensive missionary campaigns, travelling from city to city. Yet wherever he went, he always established a group of people who huddled together to support and encourage each other.

But how did Paul manage to build great relationships for himself, whilst at the same time get others to build great relationship with each other? 1 Thessalonians is one of Paul’s most personal letters, and in it we find some useful advice to help us build up our relationships with each other.

Please turn your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 2:7 where Paul says,

“Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children”.

The first thing Paul says we need to do to help us in our relationship with our church family is, ‘we need to admit our need for other Christians’.

Let’s get back to your spiritual relationship investment banks, let me ask you, do you see the need for other Christians in your life?

Paul says just as a child needs a mother, we need each other. The church is a family and like any other family you have your different characters. Every church family has its grumpy grandparents.

Get volunteers to act and read the script they’ve been given.

The grumpy grandparents Script

Grandfather: These kids nowadays are always slouching around. It wasn’t like that when I was lad, I would get a slap on the ear if I didn’t sit up and pay attention in church!

Grandmother: Oh, when I was a lass, we didn’t wear all that makeup in church, their mothers should be ashamed of themselves! Their kids look like tramps!

Young girl: Hi, good to see you, how are you both doing?

Grandmother: Oh, we’re both well, thanks for asking, we were just talking about how grown up and beautiful you look with your make up on.

The strict father Script

If that kid doesn’t stop using their mobile phone, I’m going to pull them aside with their parents and tell them all off. That’s not acceptable in worship!

The annoying brothers and sisters Script

Sister: Mum! Mum! Tell Johnny to stop making fun of me. He’s making faces at me, pulling my hair and won’t let me have my turn on Angry Birds!

Brother: Dad! Dad! It’s her, it’s all her fault! She’s telling everyone I fancy Carol when duh! she’s not even my type!

The joker Script

A mother went to wake her son for church one Sunday morning. When she knocked on his door, he said, ‘I’m not going!’ ‘why not?’ asked his mother. ‘I’ll give you two good reasons,’ he said. ‘One, they don’t like me. Two, I don’t like them.’ His mother replied, ‘I’ll give you two good reasons why YOU WILL go to church. One, you’re 47 years old. Two, you’re the preacher!’

Now every church family has these people but they also have its loving, caring mother, who is always there for you, always ready to listen to you, always ready to help you and advise you.

Let’s get back to your spiritual relationship investment banks, let me ask you, do you know the grumpy grandparents in your congregation?

Do you know the strict fathers in your congregation?

Do you know, the annoying brothers and sisters in your congregation?

Do you know, the jokers in your congregation?

Do you know, the caring, loving mothers in your congregation?

You see, this is the people Paul managed to bring together to support and encourage each other. And he knows, like we should know, that no one is insignificant, everyone is important. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:15-23

“Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour.”

We all need one another, it doesn’t matter if there are grumpy grandparents or the strict fathers, we need each other. It doesn’t matter if there are annoying brothers or sisters we need each other. It doesn’t matter if there are the jokers or the caring, loving mothers, we need each other.

This need for others is rooted deep within our souls because God planned it that way, that’s why God said in Genesis 2:18

“It is not good for the man to be alone”.

There’s nothing wrong with admitting we need other Christians in our lives because God planned us to live that way. Let me challenge you to go home to your own congregations, take note of those people you don’t know too well and just simply tell them your glad that they’re a part of your church family.

“So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

The second thing Paul says we need to do to help us in our relationship with our church family is, ‘we need to encourage deep relationships with other Christians’.

Let’s get back to your spiritual relationship investment banks, let me ask you, can you talk to your parents about absolutely anything?

Can you talk to your physical brothers or sisters about absolutely anything?

Have you got someone within your congregation you can speak to about absolutely anything? Not including your physical family members.

You see Paul is reminding us that we shouldn’t take relationships lightly. It’s hard-enough living in this cold, cruel world at the best of times but even harder if your living in this world as a Christian, especially when you’re a teenage Christian. We need those deep relationships with each other but they don’t just happen, they take effort.

So, what I want you to do now, is simply get up from your seats, go to someone you don’t know, tell them your name and where you’re from. Now think about the apostle Paul for a moment. Here was a man who every time he wrote to a church, he would always call by name two, three, or four people that were very close to him. You see, he had developed significant relationships with these people.

And that’s one reason why youth weekends are such great events, young people get the time to build deeper relationships with other young people. And it gives the hosting congregation time to build deeper relationships with a bunch of kids they usually wouldn’t get a chance to know and meet.

When I attended Bible School, I made lots of new relationships, some were deeper than others. I have one deep relationship with a brother in Corby because we both take the time to text each other every week, I visit him once a month and spend time with him once a month. And because of that relationship I can talk to him about anything, even deep spiritual things and sins that I struggle with. But it takes effort because like I said earlier, you get out of a relationship, what you put into it.

Notice that Paul uses the word, ‘cares’ in 1 Thessalonians 2:7

“Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children”. The well-known saying is very true, ‘people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.’

Let’s get back to your spiritual investment banks, let me ask you, do you feel cared for within your church family?

Do you care for others within your church family?

I remember when we first moved to Liverpool I was hanging some pictures up on the wall and when I was hammering in the nails, the hammer missed the nail and hit my thumb. What was the first thing that I did? My other hand came and wrapped itself around my thumb until the throbbing had stopped.

You see, as a church family we’re supposed to be there for one another, especially when we’re going through hard hitting times. We’re supposed to care for each other, comfort each other and encourage each other, that’s what families do.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:15-16

When you pass an exam, let your church family know, so that they can rejoice with you. When you lose someone or something dear to you, let your church family know, so that they can mourn with you. And Paul says don’t let pride get in the way, tell everyone about it, no matter who they are. It’s one thing caring for others but it’s another thing to allow others to care for you.

Listen you are a part of the greatest family in the world and your church family loves you and wants to help you in your Christian journey. I understand that we might be scared of being judged, we’re scared of being told off, we’re frightened that the whole church family will get to know what’s going on in our lives. Let me give you some advice from Paul in Galatians 6:1,

“Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, those of you who are spiritual should restore that person gently.”

If your struggling with anything, especially some kind of sin, speak to someone who spiritually mature about it.

Let’s get back to your spiritual investment banks, let me ask you, do you know of at least one spiritually mature person within your congregation, you could speak to when your struggling with something?

Now notice the next word Paul uses, it’s the word, ‘share’.

“So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

You see a mother can’t nurse her children, without sharing a part of herself with her child. In other words, for our relationships with each other to get stronger, we need to get up close and personal with one another.

The church in Thessalonica didn’t just share the Gospel, they shared their lives together. They helped each other in times of need, they encouraged each other when they were down. They fed the hungry and visited the sick, they clothed the naked and looked after the elderly, widows and orphans. They did these things together because that’s what families do together.

Let’s get back to your spiritual investment banks, let me ask you, do you regularly get involved in church life? You get one point if you do occasionally.

Have you ever helped anyone who was in need? Have you ever encouraged someone when they were down?

Have you ever given food to someone who was hungry?

Have you ever visited a sick person? Not including your relatives.

Now notice the next word Paul uses, it’s the word, ‘loved.’

“So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Paul loved these people and when we love others we have to remember to treat each of them as individuals. Jesus says in John 15:12

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

Jesus loves us so much He died for everyone one of us. He knows everyone on an individual basis, He knows our needs, our cares, our struggles and He knows every strand of hair you have on our head. Real love isn’t a bunch of tingly feelings we get when we meet someone, real love has legs attached.

What good is it to say to someone whose hungry, ‘I love you’ if you don’t give them some food? What good is it to say to someone whose crying, ‘I love you’ if you don’t give them a hug and listen to them?

Real genuine Biblical love is shown in our actions, as someone once said,

‘don’t tell me you love me, show me’

In other words, love is something you do, not just something you say.

May we cherish the relationship we have with our God, our relationship with our parents, and our friends. May our church families become our support group as we travel along our Christian journeys.

When worship is finished, you can go to your spiritual relationship investment banks, add your score up and read the corresponding Scripture for the outcome of your answers.

Click on link below for skits and questionnaire handouts

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Hebrews 11:1

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