Calvary Community Church is a family. Alongside an amazing biological family, I had the privilege of growing up at this small expression of the larger family of God. I have seen the Calvary family walk through times of great growth and through times of great trial, sometimes simultaneously.
Studies show that the average life-expectancy of a youth pastor at a local church is 1-2 years. I’m convinced that the credit for my ten-year ministry at Calvary is, in part, connected to the fact that I see Calvary as my family. My hope is that everyone who attends on a Sunday morning would grow to see this church as your home and the people of Calvary as your family. I also pray that we would all think twice before leaving this family when times inevitably get difficult.
Paul writes in Galatians 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” The Greek word for household here could be rendered family. Because of Jesus we, who were dead in trespasses and sin, can be made alive and adopted into the eternal family of God. Paul’s admonishment is that if we are in the family we are to do good to everyone, especially those who are part of the family of God, our brothers and sisters in Christ, the church.
As Paul commends, we would be wise to “do good” to this family. Here is a brief profile of families alongside some practical ideas, ordered by increasing complexity, to continue to grow together as this family.
I. Families know one another best. Do you know your family at Calvary?
- Introduce yourself to someone new this Sunday.
Andy Stanley coined the phrase, “Time in, erodes awareness of.” For those of us who have been at Calvary for many years, we may have forgotten what it was like to sit by ourselves not knowing anyone in a large congregation. I am often unaware of how new people might be feeling on a Sunday morning. In addition, I confess that I can be afraid to branch out and introduce myself to people I don’t know. We must remind ourselves of how we long to be cared for and known. Jesus knew us perfectly and still cared enough to pursue us. I want to care like Jesus did and stretch myself to meet someone new this week.
II. Families eat together. Do you eat with your family at Calvary?
- Invite someone to dinner.
Food is second only to the Gospel in its ability to unite people from all walks of life. If it’s free food, even better. Invite someone to go out to eat, or if you’re brave, invite them over to your house for a meal together. If that’s too stretching, take advantage of the times when Calvary offers church-wide meals and sit with someone you don’t know well. There are people at Calvary I only know because we ate together at a Wednesday night meal.
III. Families share stories with one another. When was the last time you heard a story from your family at Calvary?
- Ask to hear someone’s story.
It’s not enough to just eat food together and talk about the weather. Share your interests, share experiences from your job/school, and share stories from your life with one another. Then, get ready to be surprised, laugh, and even cry together (these are appropriate emotions to express with family). I laugh a lot with my brothers and sisters at Calvary.
IV. Families serve one another and serve with one another. Do you serve at Calvary?
- Serve in a ministry at Calvary.
There are countless ways to serve the Calvary family. Whether it’s volunteering in the nursery, singing on the worship team, or visiting the nursing home, you will be blessed as you serve the people of Calvary and as you serve alongside people at Calvary. I remember meeting many great friends washing the dishes after a monthly Sunday night meal many years ago.
V. Families stick together through thick and thin. Have you committed to stick with your family at Calvary when things get difficult?
- Don’t run from the messiness of this family.
I can have the most candid and honest conversations with my family because I know that they are with me no matter what happens. I can talk about anything, even things we disagree about, because we have a commitment to one another. Nothing saddens me more at Calvary as when I hear of people leaving the family because they were hurt or upset with something or someone.
We all bring sin into this family which means things are going to get messy, it is inevitable. I want to plead with you to not run when it gets messy. Amid conflict and disagreement, we have a Savior who has forgiven us and helps us forgive one another, a Gospel that is big enough to bridge our differences with one another, and the Holy Spirit who helps us to “do good” to the messy family that is Calvary Community Church.
“Do you really believe in the ‘God of the Old Testament’? I mean, he seems so ticked off all the time! All that vengeance, and wrath, and anger. All those times where he orders the extermination of whole cities, and sometimes wipes them out himself (see Sodom and Gomorrah).
Watch as the young Beck men proclaim their love for Jesus as they obey his command to be baptized.
All My Hope
One of the things I LOVE about being a pastor at Calvary is some of the amazing people I get to serve with every day. A couple of those are our worship pastor, Matt Faulkner, and one of his worship leaders, Christy Freeman.
On Easter Sunday, the Calvary family got to witness God working in the lives of two men who publicly affirmed their faith through baptism. It was a joy to see!
I think one of the challenges to reading through The Whole Story of the Bible is to keep reminding ourselves that the people involved were very real people dealing with really crucial and often difficult circumstances. For example, we have now arrived at a sobering word from Yahweh through the prophet Micah.
We’ve made our way through The Whole Story to one of the most famous stories in all of the Bible, and maybe all of literature. The story of the prophet Jonah.