Relationships are and should be personal.
Relationships should create a level of personal investment.
When reading the New Testament, it becomes very evident the message of Jesus is meant to be personal. A prostitute is forever changed. A swindling tax collector undid the financial wrongs of his past. Story after story, we see the touch of Jesus and his effect on the heart and soul. A devoted Pharisee who helped execute Christians later became the man who wrote many of the New Testament books. How? He experienced the life changing presence of Jesus. Lives were transformed in a very powerful manner. As people came to follow the way of Jesus, they became more dependent on one another. Their interaction as a church appeared to be very much like a family. They met in houses, shared meals together, and spent hours together in prayer. They invested countless hours together learning the ways of Jesus from one another. Many even died together for their faith.
The church in America has experienced many trends. During the 1960s and 70s congregational growth became a huge focus within the church. God had richly blessed certain churches as they proclaimed the gospel. Through these ministries many lives were changed. Great numbers were baptized and added to fellowships across the country. People began to ask, “How did this happen?” Men and women met to discuss the “How To’s” of growing a church. I have been involved in many such meetings and they have been extremely beneficial. Yet, in the process of it all, bigger seemed to become better and seemingly “smaller” congregations were made to feel inferior or underachieving. The average minister is expected to function like a polished CEO with years of corporate experience.
Many ministers are evaluated based on what amounts to a spreadsheet.
By the very nature of what has been created within the corporate church movement, it can become easy to lose sight of the personal aspect of relationships. We are so busy growing, building, reaching, and increasing that we don’t have time to truly get to know one another. The schedule can be overwhelming. The expectations of others are overwhelming. The programs can be overwhelming. There is so much to do in the pursuit of “Bigger is Better” that we overlook the personal, God ordained component of what it is all about.
God’s investment in us is personal and our investment in one another is meant to be deeper than just superficial interaction.
God created us for relationships. Relationship with Him and relationship with others. Many churches function as businesses today and there is very little time for relationships and friendship. I have often heard a church leader say, “they can get that in small group if that is what interests them.”
I am not against large ministries. I am thankful for any church proclaiming the gospel and making/training disciples. What does concern me is when our focus weakens the true gospel message, and it becomes an experience that only works when it is pulled off in a large, professional setting with all types of technology. We must remember that bigger is not always better.
How many meaningful, personal spiritual conversations do you have with people each week? Are they people within your local fellowship of believers? How invested are you in the lives of people within your church family?
We need to focus on God. We need to focus on people. We need to keep our investment in one another honest and genuine.