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.
If you’ve been reading along in this little series—congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the first week. As a reward to both of us, you the reader, and myself as the writer, I’ve decided to make Sundays a “Grace Day.”
Day Five: Be Attentive To Wisdom
While it is hard to nail down a precise figure (I looked at a number of studies), one large study pulling together a number of other studies reports: “To conclude, a close analysis of [the] Infidelity rate and its growth pattern clearly indicates that nearly one half of all married men and women are involved in extramarital affairs.”
Day Four: Orienteering
Many who know me are quite aware that I am indoorsy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going for a run, a bike ride, or even a hike through the woods or in the mountains. It’s just that I don’t want to sleep out there. I believe God inspired us to create hotels and houses for a very good reason: to return to, enjoy, and sleep in. It’s a very important part of what separates us from the animals.
Day Three: A Heart of Wisdom
When we baptize someone at our church, we always remind our people that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This picture of being lowered fully into the water and rising up again that happens on the outside for all to see, is a window into the soul of the baptized, revealing a heart cleansed, purified, and surrendered to Jesus, and thus saved, transformed, and made a part of the family.
Day Two: Our God Will Supply
It’s important we pause for a moment and look at the simple structure of Solomon’s book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are extended descriptions of wisdom, largely in story form with instructions from a parent to a child, using at times images of “Lady Wisdom” and “Woman Folly.” They are there to explain two pathways, one that leads to a wise and good life, and one that leads to destruction. And these first nine chapters are there to help us see why we should care about chapters ten through thirty-one, which contain all the individual sayings of wisdom for which the book is famous.
Day One: The Fear of Yahweh
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, English Standard Version) I argued in yesterday’s post how God has hardwired wisdom into all of creation, and that wisdom is an applied skill in working with the grain of his design, and not against it, so that we may have a good life. An immediate question arises: if this is true, wouldn’t that mean a good life is available to all who recognize and pursue this, whether or not they believe in God?
Yesterday I preached the twenty-sixth sermon in The Whole Story sermon series, on the book of Proverbs. One of the main points of the sermon—because it is one of the main points of the book of Proverbs—is how wisdom is this thing that helps you see the way the world truly is, the way it works, so that you can live well inside of it. This is because wisdom is expertise and competence, it is applied skill, seen in the ways the Bible uses the word for craftsmen (Exodus 35:31), goldsmiths (Jeremiah 10:9), and sailors (Psalm 107:27).
This last Sunday, we made our way back into our Whole Story sermon series after a powerful four weeks taking a look at how we can help people ‘move to the right’, out of and away from the kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of the beloved Son. The sermon also served the purpose of kicking off our entry into the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament, with the story of Job as our first step in that journey.