You may have noticed, over the last few weeks, that churches in Minnesota have been holding their fall kick off events. If you haven’t noticed this, perhaps you just aren’t paying attention as it has become traditional for churches across the state to hold some form of fall event. These events are designed to reignite involvement among the regular attenders and to promote the church among those who may not be regular church attenders. These events are often promoted with signage around the community and even ads may appear in local newspapers, so generally they are pretty hard to miss.
Here in Minnesota, our relatively short summer represents our best chance for vacation fun, so most churches see a drop in attendance during the summertime. But once Labor Day has passed, the State Fair has ended, and the kids are back in school; it’s time to get back to more spiritual matters. So the tents go up, the picnic caterers are scheduled, the bounce house business goes crazy, and churches across the state help us get back into our religious grooves. Programs for our youth are scheduled, small group signup sheets are posted, adult Bible studies begin meeting, and church attendance begins to grow again.
But why? Why is all this effort put towards getting us back involved? Is the church just trying to line its pockets with our donations? Do our pastors seek bragging rights about their attendance figures? Are these events just excuses to eat hot dogs, hamburgers, and potato salad until we can no longer stand under our own power? What is the real purpose behind the activity?
I will submit for your consideration that it can be almost fully explained with one simple word: Community.
Yep, that’s it – one simple word, just four syllables. Community. You see, we are designed to be in community. Right at the very beginning of the earth, during creation, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Our Creator designed us to share life together and we simply cannot put too much emphasis on this fact. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reads: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
In this Old Testament verse we see clearly that fellowship with another person helps us in our work (labor), in our trials (falling down), in our comfort and survival (keeping warm), and in our safety (defending ourselves). All of this would seem to be pretty common sense to most of us but the reality today is that we often have less true fellowship, or community, than at any time in the past. Sure, we may spend lots of time with other people, but how much of that time actually involves meaningful discussion? How much are we experiencing the true love and support that all of us crave? Indeed, if we are completely honest with ourselves, our busy lives, technological distractions, and lack of serious conversations have left many of us experiencing deep loneliness even in the middle of crowded situations.
Just pause for a moment and think of a time when you were feeling loneliness, experiencing a loss, suffering illness, or otherwise hurting. Was someone there to support you? Did that support make a difference to you? The Bible is rich with explanation of our need for community and I am confident most of us can think of a situation where the love and support of another human being made, or would have made, all the difference. The local church is concerned with helping us follow God’s intended design by providing the framework within which we experience the love of God through the support of our fellow human being. It is our respite from the busyness that often leaves us feeling so alone.
Having moved to a new geographic location, Donna and I found ourselves feeling a need for greater fellowship and community as we simply were not well connected locally. Over this past summer we had many discussions about our situation. Having failed to truly connect at a larger church that was rather distant from our new home, we ultimately made the decision to find a smaller church that was closer to home. Our search ultimately led us to Cornerstone Church in Crystal, Minnesota.
We have been attending Cornerstone for about a month and a half and already I am involved in the men’s Bible study fellowship on Wednesday mornings and both Donna and I are attending the Wednesday evening Bible study. And just today we were connected to a new Lifegroup (small group) that will soon be starting. While it may take some time for deep fellowship to grow between us and our fellow church members, the process is well underway. And the feeling of belonging and purpose is filling Donna and I with a new joy that has deepened the love we already share with each other.
Below I am pictured with Pastor Scott Salmon. Scott is preaching a series on community and we are truly sensing how God is working at Cornerstone.
So if you have been feeling the need for a greater sense of community in your life, if you have been feeling lonely even in the middle of a crowded room, if you have been yearning to feel the love and support you are designed to need, then please visit us at Cornerstone Church in Crystal. Or visit a church close to your home. It is in the church that you will find God’s people practicing community and yearning to meet you!
If you are unsure how to get started finding a church in your area, drop us an email at ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com. We are happy to provide you with easy-to-use resources. And if you are in our area, check out Cornerstone Church at www.cornerstonecrystal.org.