Every Thursday at around 11:00, I can expect an interruption in my time at the office. At around that time, a group of ladies will be walking through the hallways, talking and laughing along the way. It really is a pleasant interruption to see the friendships that exist between these women. They started out meeting for a 12 week program, and just continued meeting after the 12 weeks were done. These women had grown deep in their relationships with one another and wanted to continue supporting each other every week. I wish more groups that met in our church felt that same way.
It’s really easy for church workers to begin to loathe meetings and regular programming, even weekly worship. It’s easy to see things as a “waste of my time,” boring because it’s the same every week or just “one more thing” on the to-do list. When we as leaders lose that sense of community with those we’re serving, even in our meetings, then it’s likely that the rest of the group will follow suit.
I had an opportunity in January to head back to campus for our DCE intern mid-year conference. It was great to see all the other interns and to meet together and share experiences and encouragement. I really enjoyed the collaboration that happened and just the camaraderie that we had through our shared experiences as interns. After the couple days of the conference were over, almost all the goodbyes I had with the other interns included a sincere commitment to staying in contact with each other. The experience of meeting together and supporting one another was such a great experience that we wanted to keep it going after the conference was done, just like those ladies that meet at my church on Thursdays.
What if youth ministry could be more like this? What if we could have an experience of meeting together that youth just want to continue meeting together because they miss each other and the support that they get from their church family? This really isn’t too far-fetched of an idea, as many youth groups strive to be a second family, and I really think that is a noble goal that we should strive for. But even more than just youth ministry, what if our congregations could be more like this? What if we could have an experience of meeting together that members just want to continue meeting together because they miss each other and the support that they get from their church family? That sounds like a great church to be at! In fact, it sounds a lot like the early church described in Acts.
Instead of getting stuck in routines of regular meetings, programs and services, let’s focus on the people we get to walk through life with at those meetings, programs and services. At meetings, let’s pour into people instead of just poring over numbers. At our programs, let’s talk with people about themselves instead of gossiping about others. After our worship services, let’s move our conversations past the standard “How are you? Good,” line of dialogue. We are already gathered around the Word of God, focusing on the grace given to us in Christ Jesus, so let’s use that time to also pour God’s love into one another. Let us come together at church, where Jesus meets with us to forgive our sins, strengthen our faith and to confirm and support the community of faith in which we serve. Our lives of faith, our fellowship and our service to one another flow from our crucified and risen Savior who gives His gifts to us as He meets us in His word and sacraments.
Let us embody Hebrews 10:24-25 in our youth groups, board meetings, worship services, small groups, voters meetings, Bible classes and any other time we get together: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you seethe Day drawing near.”