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.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.