Tuesday, November 20, 2007



As we've spent time thinking about what it means to "Give Thanks" at The Mission, several of you have shared with us that The Mission is like your family. Many of you on Thursday and on Sunday expressed a thankful heart that God has brought you to The Mission and that you've started to connect with others in the group, just like a family. Wendy and I feel the same! In fact, this is a very large part of what we're hoping to inspire at The Mission. We're commanded by Jesus to "love one another" and to hear that many of you are experiencing this is very encouraging to us.

Because of this, I’ve been thinking about how we can inspire greater community within our house church. Wendy and I have talked a lot in the last few days about how we can get to know others more and develop a deeper sense of family with everyone at The Mission.

The truth is, we're together a lot. Just glance at the list of ministries and gatherings this week alone and you can see that we've opened up a lot of our schedule to The Mission. Getting together to serve or to share or to celebrate together is very important…but what more can we do to inspire deeper connections within our group?

I don't think the solution is to schedule more group events. We could spend every single evening and weekend together and still not open up to one another or share our lives with each other.

What we need is more quality time together.

As Wendy and I have been talking about this and thinking about it, here are some things we believe we can do to encourage greater community within our house church.
1) Testimonies
2) Outside activities
3)Open your home
4) Smaller groups

Testimonies are a great ways to learn more about the people in our group. How did you come to Christ? What are the most significant spiritual events in your life over the last few years? What lead you to choose house church? What are you currently wrestling with God about right now? What is the spiritual journey you're on today? Hearing where others have come from, understanding where they are now and sharing their hopes for the future are great ways to build emotional connections with those in our group. Who wants to go first?

Outside Activities
Outside activities like Heather's recent art show, or our infamous camping trip, or Megan's play, or the guy’s poker night, etc. all help us to get together outside the usual environment of The Mission and spend time together doing things other than the typical church liturgy. So, to take advantage of these times outside the group we need to invite one another to join us for fun times with our family or weekend trips, etc. We can all learn more about one another by simply being more inclusive and inviting of one another.

Open Your Home
I’d like to ask if you’d pray about the possibility of opening your home to others in the Mission. Invite someone from house church to dinner at your house. Ask another person or family from The Mission to meet you for lunch on Saturday or Sunday after church. If you've got kids, set up a play date with other Mission House Church kids. Rent a funny movie and invite someone from the Mission to watch it with you. The more time we spend together outside of an "official" Mission gathering the better. The more the rest of you open your home and become more inviting and inclusive, the more relationships with others in the house church will strengthen.

Smaller Groups
Smaller groups are more conducive to intimacy. When we have fifteen or twenty people in the living room it's hard to have an intimate conversation or confess a need or share the deepest ache of your heart. To have a smaller group gathering on Thursday or Sunday would require splitting out our existing groups into just two, maybe three, families. I'm not sure if we're ready for this emotionally or not, but perhaps if we desire greater intimacy enough we will soon decide to take this step to get smaller. That leads me to...

Finally, I'd like to ask that everyone pray for God's blessing. That's what I've been doing lately. Pray and ask God to help you to love others more. Ask Him to soften your heart and open your home in order to make you more "others focused" and willing to share. I have been praying lately that God would help us love one another and knit us together as a real family of God. I want The Mission to be a place where everyone is blessed and accepted and loved and nurtured and encouraged. Isn't that what Church should be all about? Isn't that what it means to be part of the Family of God?

No Limits
What excites me is that we’re limited only by our own willingness to participate in this process. If we want this kind of community and intimacy it is totally within our grasp. If we want to be a Church that loves one another and cares for one another there’s nothing stopping us...but us.

The only question for us is, "Do we really want this?" and if we do, then we need to take the steps to become these sorts of people and this sort of Church. Going back again to the vision God gave me for The Mission at the beginning of this year, the concept of "Concentric Circles of Love" starts with learning how to love those nearest to us first of all. It's not easy. Far from it.

We need to pray for God to teach us how to love those within our own family, and then also how to love those in our Church Family too. I pray that we can take the risk and that we will start really being intentional about showing one another we love them, and that we really want to live out our calling to be known by our love.

"And they will know that you are my disciples if you love one another"–Jesus (from John 13:35)

Never forget - "You are loved" and that truth sets us free to love each other in the same amazing way.


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