Are you part of something bigger than yourself, or are you trying to do life on your own? Believe it or not, your answer to this question may even affect the length of your life!
I’ll be the first one to admit, I have no problem being alone. In fact, I even went to a concert by myself one time because nobody else wanted to go. Being an introvert by personality has its perks, but over the years I’ve come to the realization that we’re all designed for connection.
In fact, the apostle Paul says the church isn’t like a body, it is a body. Made up of members with diverse gifts who work together interdependently. That means we depend on each other for overall life and health.
Consider this illustration. Whenever any part of the body is separated from the rest, it shrivels and dies. Gross, yes, but true.
How about you? Are you actively involved in a local body of believers? If not, here are three things to look for.
1. Connection to the head. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and others. One of the primary ways of loving God and others is spending time with them. Daily. You’re deceived if you say you love God and others but you’re not carving out time to spend time with them. You’re even crazier if you say you love God, but can’t stand people. Jesus put loving God and others on the same plane. So as you consider a church to attend, there should be evidence that the people there love God and others. Remember, a body disconnected from a head cannot live for very long. However, if a body is to be healthy, it must stay connected to the head.
2. Members connect with each other. You remember the song, right? The thigh bone’s connected to the shin bone, the shin bones connected to the foot bone. Common sense. People cannot stay healthy unless they are connected to others. The more members connect with each other, the healthier the body. You can have a pile of body parts but they’ll have no value unless they’re connected to one another. Likewise, you can have all of the gifts in the world and still be lacking if you are not sharing with others. Good luck if you’re looking for the perfect church. Just like every other organization, the church is made up of imperfect people. Rather than finding fault with every church you visit, why don’t you find a place to plug in and make a contribution? Maybe it’s time to stop focusing on what’s wrong with the church and start focusing on what’s right. Again, healthy bodies are made up of members who connect with each other regularly in meaningful ways.
3. Healthy churches exercise. Specifically, they are on mission. Jesus left us with the command to ‘make disciples’. We do so in three ways. 1) As we go. 2) Teaching them to observe everything that he commanded us. 3) Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Ironically, while he gave us these specific instructions, he did not give us specific methods. Why? Because though our message never changes, our methods do. As you consider a church, the methods are not as important as the mission. Mission trumps methods every time. Church members can be connected to the head and each other, but if they are not on mission, they are not healthy. While we’re at it, part 2 (teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you) is the great omission of the Great Commission. I’ll leave you to think about that.
Meanwhile, another metaphor Paul uses to describe the body of Christ is an army. Again, there is no such thing as an army of one.
Let me say this as lovingly as possible….If you think you can carry out your earthly assignment on your own, you’re wrong. That was never God’s design regardless of how talented you think you are. He has designed us to need and love one another. Until you find a group of like minded people to connect and serve with, you’re going to be miserable. In fact, according to research, there is a good possibility that if you don’t connect with something bigger than yourself, you’ll be dead within the next two years!
A word for….
Pastors. If you want to revitalize the church you lead, begin by focusing on these three areas. Help people to connect with God, each other, and the mission. If you’ll focus on those three areas, your church will grow healthier.
Parents. As a leader in your family, your primary goal is to help your kids connect in each of these three areas. It’s important, especially if they’re not old enough to decide themselves, to provide an atmosphere where they have repeated, and continual, opportunities to connect with God, others and the mission. If they’re struggling in one of these areas, that’s a good place to start.
Leaders. Don’t think for a minute that this doesn’t apply to you and the organization you lead. If you’re a Christian and you’re more concerned with your employees productivity rather than their soul, somethings wrong. When’s the last time you sat down with a struggling employee to help them rather than demand better performance. Maybe God has allowed their poor performance so that they get the care they need.
It would be wonderful if our lives ran like finely tuned Swiss watches. The reality is, churches, organizations and families have their fair share of problems. However, rather than being discouraged by the problems you’re currently facing, look at them as opportunities to improve and succeed. Take some time to diagnose each of these three vital connections. The feeling of accomplishment you feel, will far outweigh your current pain.