You know that you want you community to be a place where Jesus is seen and accepted but how do you begin with a missional community. Most communities start with a team but there are occasions when you have nobody…..what then?
1)Adopt the posture of a learner – it can be easy to make assumptions and to think that you know a community well. However, demographic studies, stats, maps and more stats are no replacement for legwork in the community and getting under the skin of the place. You need to be ready to learn more, listen more, observe continually and accept things may be different to what you perceive. Be ready to learn, be willing to learn and spend a great deal of time listening. Adopt a learning attitude.
2)Seek someone who will inform you – who is the person of peace, someone who imbibes the community, who will share their knowledge and is a friend. They do not necessarily hold your beliefs of faith but they are willing to share with you. Their willingness usual strengthens when you adopt the posture of a learner and not that of teacher.
3) Build relationships – as you talk with people, seek them out again, develop friendships, go deeper and let this rootedness in the community help you to flourish. Not all relationships will be tight, see it more of a spiders web with a central strength and a growing network beyond the fringes. Relationships are critical.
These first three steps are very practical and the holy people reading will ask, ‘what about prayer?’ Prayer is the most necessary component and I have assumed it will underpin, surround and inhabit everything. Without prayer you have nothing and the steps above only help begin a social club, not a missional community. Prayer is the blood running through our veins….do not abandon it.
All the above takes time….it is worth it!
How often have you heard it said that ‘it is rude to whisper!’ Probably a lot, especially if you have spent any time around children. Let’s put things straight, it is NOT rude to whisper….sometimes it is necessary and it can be the best way to communicate. Please don’t say it anymore.
It is rude to ignore people that are in the room with you or to deliberately leave them out of the communications that are happening in their presence but the volume of the communication is not the determining factor.
It is not rude to whisper.
For Christians, the issues of forgiveness and trust are some of the heavyweight battlegrounds in terms of Church relationships. I have been personally working through some of these issues for a few months and, in truth, been beating myself over the head about my lack of forgiveness in a particular relationship. It has been more than a thorn in the flesh, more a millstone around the neck. When people have spoken with me, the weight of the millstone has increased and rather than helping, my anger with myself has increased leaving me feeling worthless and useless…..well, it did, until that eureka moment struck. I had forgiven, the issue was not forgiveness but trust.
I have to stop beating myself over the head for lacking forgiveness, rather find a way in which you can learn to trust again. What a difference, personally!
The difficult part is the understanding of others who have interpreted behaviours differently (albeit understandably) and have levelled accusation that I now realise were unfair and have ‘hamstrung’ me in my faith. Recognising the real issue has been a breakthrough and hopefully the future can be a little brighter now. The journey is certainly a different one, learning to trust again is certainly a longer road to travel, yet the destination will be joyful.
The online life is one that I regularly engage in and see a great value in. However, it must never demote real life meetings, interactions and conversations. It has a purpose but there are also some significant limitations.
Today I was invited to an online community system that offered to;
“helps the people of (name removed) build community, strengthen relationships, and much more.”
The dream is one that must be applauded in its aspiration and the lure of the online world is strong, yet these claims seem a little exaggerated. We need to be careful that we do not replace the meal table, the face-to-face, the gatherings etc. – real community is sharing life….in all it’s forms
It is amazing how often we hear it…..maybe, even said it ourselves (we know we have!) that someone is “ignoring me”. It is more common than we think. However, is it really true? Is it that we are being ignored or that people are not communicating with us in the way we would want/need or demand?
Let’s have an example. If I have reason to doubt that someone is honest, I tend to go quiet with them. I will say hello or respond if they happen to talk with me but will not go out of my way to begin a new conversation, after all, I am doubting if they are trustworthy. If they respond in a similar way, it is not fair of me to say that the individual is ‘ignoring me’ – they happen to be responding in kind.
A better response is to ask, why is my communication with this individual lacking? It may be that before you accuse them of ignoring you, you may have to remove the log from your own eye.
So often we take our pithy comments or our attending of events lightly. They matter more than we would believe……it matters more to people when the chips are down and are likely never to be forgotten.
A young person, with whom I had a special privilege of working with, brought this truth to home in my own life. He was a ‘star’ youth group member when his closest friend was killed in a road traffic accident, it was a tough time that hit us all hard. This youngster in particular removed himself from people and his grief took a heavy toll. A long time later he went missing and I was asked to help find him. In a moment of inspiration, I went straight to where he was, said nothing, and sat near him until he was ready to leave the gravestone by which he sat. We said very little and as I left him at his front door, he said, “Thank you, I knew you would understand.”
Sometimes, our presence matters above all else. Where do we find ourselves when it really matters?
The pathway of life is littered with casualties of broken or soured relationships. I believe that the “end well” motto is difficult to fulfil but it is possible to ensure that as you leave people, it can be harmonious when you next meet with them.
People have a remarkable ability to forget things, they forget less their feelings after you have made them feel comfortable, wanted and loved. When you treat people well, even the strongest of disagreements can be placed to one side.