This post is part of a series that comes from an exercise we did as a church to name our reality. You can read more about that exercise here.
The most overwhelming positive theme was our love and care for each other.
- “We love well.” (This one had a bunch of pins!)
- “There’s a strong sense of community.”
- “People know and love my kids.”
Our family has experienced this and I know many others have as well. We have walked through some great joys and some terrible sorrows. This love and care has not been perfect (we’ll get to that), but that is no reason to deny that sacrificial love and care is a beautiful hallmark of our church. It is not common, and it should be celebrated. This isn’t to pat ourselves on our collective back, it is a clear manifestation of the work of God in and among us. Praise God that he has so deeply rooted this in our DNA! After all, sacrificial love and care for each other is an important aspect of God’s design for the church.
Loving each other well is an important aspect of what the church is supposed to be.
- “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
- “Be devoted to one another in love.” Romans 12:10
- “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
However, even this one wasn’t unanimous.
- “I have felt the difficulty of breaking in to the core group when new. Now I might be one of them.”
- “We let people leave Trailhead too easily.”
- “No one invites us to dinner/coffee/community. People are warm when I’m present but I feel disconnected–so I have not been welcoming either.”
I think there are a few things going on here.
Which of these resonate with your thoughts and experience?
- Our greatest care for each other comes in times of crisis (and far from being bad, I think that’s normal). During the “regular” times of life there isn’t as much intention given to care and shared life. We can grow in our intentional investment in each other during those “regular” times, but we also need to understand that it is natural for care to be more intentional and lavish during times of crisis. I once heard someone say that the most important aspect of a small group is to foster relationships so they exist when the “stuff” hits the fan. These are the times we need people most, and that’s okay, as long as we understand that those relationships are the fruit of consistent investment week in and week out.
- Our actions don’t match our desires. God has made us with a desire for relationships and the church is meant to be a key part of the fulfillment of this desire. However, when that desire goes unfulfilled we can easily focus on our dissatisfaction more than the part we play in that dissatisfaction. We want to be invited, but are we inviting? (Are we accepting the invitations that are offered?) We want to be welcomed, but are we welcoming? If each one of us focused on being welcoming and inviting toward others, in a short time we’d find that we feel more included and connected.
- We forget the gospel. Jesus went to the cross to provide the means of reconciliation to God and other people. If we are exclusive, cold, or apathetic toward others, we are not living in the reconciling power of the gospel. We also forget Jesus’ example. He went to the ones who were ignored by others. His presence honored the dignity of each person. He couldn’t be equally close with everyone he met, but he was present with each person.
In this area of love and care for one another I see three key questions.
- How can we continue to offer sacrificial care for each other so that what has been true of Trailhead in the past will continue to be true in the future?
- How can we expand this love and care so that no one feels excluded from it?
- What can you do–yes you–to help make Trailhead a church where genuine love and care continue to be a hallmark of our church? (This could be things like attitudes, actions, habits, etc.)