Building a Faith and Friendly Community
When people come to our church, what will be their first impression? Would they come back again to worship with us? How attractive are we to the community around us? Do people give a good report of us to others whom they are in contact with? Do they sense the presence of God among us? I thought that it would be good in this pastoral perspective to address on the means for us in "building a faith and friendly community."
In this community, what I think that we need, first of all, is "to encourage each other in the faith." In order to do this, we need to show genuine concern for each other's faith, to see that each other is walking with Christ Jesus daily. We cannot assume that everyone is doing fine in their faith journey in Christ. Sharing our journey of faith with each other can help a long way to spur each other on in the faith. Sharing more about what Christ Jesus is doing in our lives may help in keeping each other in the faith. Aren't we excited about our spiritual life journey with Jesus? We should be excited to share Christ Jesus with each other, no matter how small or big! If someone share their struggle in their faith journey, then we who are matured in the faith must exercise patience with them and encourage them to persevere on, not to give up. We should also offer to pray for those who need prayers. We can even offer to come alongside them to show them how to maintain that connection with and confidence in Christ Jesus.
Another means of "building a faith and friendly community" is "to focus on being a friend to others." We all need friends. As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed! In order to do this, we need to seek God for His direction and leading. Ask God, if you will, to stir in us the willingness to be a friend to others in this community. What holds us together in this community will be that strong tie of friendships! This will give us the motivation to want to come to church. Once we know that we have friends here whom we can relate to and talk with, we would not feel left out but we would be looking forward to coming to church every Sunday. We would know that people here will listen to your sharings and your stories and would even love to pray with and for you. What a joy and privilege to be in this community of faith and friends!
Still another means of "building a faith and friendly community" is "to give each other the joy of serving." So far, if I could remember, I had encouraged several people to serve the Lord Christ all these years in True Way. I had seen those who did not serve earlier but now, I rejoice to see them serving the King of Kings! One of them whom I am currently mentoring is serving in the Tuition Ministry and another whom I previously mentored is in the U12 Ministry. I also see two sisters in Christ whom I know for several years serving as ushers now. Let us give each other the opportunity and privilege to serve the Lord gladly and gratefully! "Giving each other the joy of serving" is something workable and feasible. If each of us does our part in encouraging others to serve, then there will be no lack in people serving in this community.
Finally, one more means of building a faith and friendly community is "to hold each other accountable." We don't want to see people serving until they suffer spiritual "burnout”. This is where accountability helps. People serving is good but people burning out is no good. There must be a balance between serving and spending time with Jesus. We all need spiritual rest, refreshment and restoration! When we have someone who holds us accountable, we will not suffer burnout or discouragements. We need an avenue to share our joys and sorrows, our ups and downs and our good and bad times. "Hold each other accountable" is something workable. I pray that we will conscientiously and diligently desire to have someone who would hold us accountable in our spiritual journey of faith in Christ.
In conclusion, it is my earnest prayer that as a community, we will consider the essentials of "building a faith and friendly community" by encouraging each other in the faith, by focusing on being a friend to others, by giving each other the joy of serving and by holding each other accountable. May our gracious and loving Heavenly Father God guide and help all of us here at True Way! Amen.
(Published as a pastoral letter in True Way Presbyterian Church)