Tag Archives: Church

When Churches Play Together

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I wrote this post originally for Jesus Loves Kzoo, a city-wide Gospel movement in Kalamazoo I am blessed to be part of.

I have been recently challenged by some great leaders I love and respect with this question, “is it necessary for us (churches) to work (play) together to be unified?” Sometimes this doesn’t come in the form of a question but in the form of a statement. One of the calls on my life is to work toward the transformation of our city through the unifying gospel movement of churches working together. So when I get push back like that, I sometimes get a little anxious.

More importantly, however, it causes me to become really clear about what I believe.

In 1 Corinthians 12:14-27, Paul gives a beautiful picture of the Church – yes, capital “C” CHURCH – as the body of Christ. He tells us the body is made up of many parts, and that each part needs each other. He says that one part of the body can’t look at another part and say, “well, because I am a foot and not a hand, I am not part of the body.” And, “hey hands, we’re eyeballs and we don’t need you!” Each part is unique and plays a part in the body being whole and healthy.

I’ve never been able to leave a body part behind!

Not that I’ve really tried, mind you. But it seems everywhere I go, my whole body goes with me. And, I discovered I really need my whole body to be working together. In fact, I’ve discovered that when I am walking it is not a good thing if my eyes are heading in a different direction than the rest of me.

I think it is easy for us to say we are unified when we are not, when we don’t work together. I think it becomes too easy for us to politely acknowledge one another in passing, but really think the whole sandbox is ours.

Paul is not talking to individual congregations of varying sizes. He is talking to THE Church. And in Paul’s understanding the Church was the Church of the City. The Church in Corinth was large enough that it met in smaller, house churches scattered throughout the city. But he addressed it as a single unit.

There are many congregations in our community of Kalamazoo, but there is one Church. And while we can work alone in isolation and get some good stuff done. It is when we function together that we are most effective and most honoring to God.

Sometimes parts of the Body get hurt!

Last year during JLK Catalyst Week some of you may remember I had my left arm in a great big cast so my wrist ligaments would heal. This year I will be rehabbing a shoulder injury back to health. Maybe it’s because I am getting older. Maybe it is because I play hard and in playing hard a part of the body gets hurt.

I believe we sometimes avoid working and playing together as a whole body of Christ because when we’ve done that in the past we’ve gotten hurt. When my body gets hurt, I tend to pull back. Not go after it as hard.

But I also need the whole body to work together for healing. I am not looking forward to physical therapy for my shoulder. I know they will ask me to do things that hurt. I don’t like pain. But I also know it will bring healing and strength.

We run the risk of getting hurt when we play and work together as the whole body of Christ. But, it is only when we are fully functioning as Christ’s body in our community will we, the Church, not only see the healing God has for us, but be able to be part of the healing and restoration God has in mind for our community.


The Comfy Room

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I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. ~ Jesus, John 17:22

That’s what she called it when she asked us to meet.  The comfy room.

We, those who met in the comfy room, are the vision team for a Gospel Movement in our city.  In that room today was this amazing mix of people: male, female, pastors, leaders, hispanic, african american and caucasian.  We come from a broad spectrum of denominations and traditions; but have a deep understanding that we are all part of one Church.

We also have a deep understanding that we form a community with a commitment to stewarding this movement God has entrusted to us.

We met in the comfy room.

The comfy room is an intimate place in the congregation where I serve.  It heats up nicely in the winter (which seems to be long this year), has nice lighting, several nice sofas and arm chairs.  It is a comfy room. But it really isn’t the lighting, the walls or the furniture that makes the room comfy. It is the authentic community which is both expressed and experienced in that space that makes it comfy.

Each one in that room, in the pattern of Scripture, possesses great leadership gifts and callings which are expressed in a variety of ways and places.  Each one in that room, the comfy room, walks in the authority of Christ’s anointing and the Spirit’s filling.

They made the room “the comfy room” today. We met to pray, debrief, evaluate & plan following up on an event we sponsored in response to God’s call for repentance and unity in the Church.  This community I am privileged to be part of made the room comfy through how we are learning to be together.

This community on mission together, and filled of lots of personalities, was able to listen deeply to one another. We spoke passionately and prophetically to one another.  We asked hard questions – some of which we can’t answer yet.  We put relationships ahead of agendas. Sometimes, over time, we hurt one another and have to reconcile and pursue relationship all over again.  We love one another and are learning to love one another better.  

Sometimes we laugh and play and get off track.  I think that is part of it, it knits us together.  

Paul says this in Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

We met in the comfy room.  But every room with this group of freaks is a comfy room.

Do you have an authentic community of people you meet in comfy rooms with?


Leadership Nesting

ImageI resisted the urge to title this blog The Love Nest – for the sake of my wife and kids…

But I did have one, a love nest. Back in college.  Kirk and I did.  We lofted our beds on either side, put an early rummage sofa under one side and my newly acquired stereo with turntable and 3 way floor shakers on the other, next to the 13″ tv and VCR.  We never had any girls in the love nest but our music was loud and we watched plenty of Arnold or Stallone movies.

I’m not talking about that kind of nest, tho. However much fun that might be.  I am talking about the kind of nest leaders create out of love so the amazing people they work with not only survive, but flourish and thrive.

God created the first love nest.

In Genesis chapter 1. Read it, I’ll wait. Genesis 1 really isn’t about science. Sorry.  It really isn’t about the number of days for creation – again, sorry.  But keep reading.  The account of creation is so much more than that. It confronted a worldview at the time of its writing that didn’t know of “a creator.” And, it describes the purpose of all that was created. A love nest for leadership.

Looking carefully we see the progression in chapter 1 of creating space with light and dark, the separating of waters so there could be atmosphere, the gathering of water and land into a planet (we call it Earth), vegetation to support animal life. And all of this to create the perfect nest, or environment, where those made in the image of God would do much more than survive.  Where they would live fully human lives according to their design.

Then God blessed them and gave them this directive, “… I make you trustees of my estate, so care for my creation…” (from The Voice, Gen 1:28) 

Out of his extravagant love, God created the perfect nest, environment and culture, for mankind to thrive doing what they were created for – stewarding creation by working and caring for it. A space, the garden, where they (we?) lived intimately with God and one another in the midst of tending to the work of creation.

The first job in the first workplace, a co-op of sorts, with God at the center.

Good leaders also create Love Nests 

Good leaders, especially Christian leaders, creatively impact their organizations by partnering with God and others in developing love nests, environments, that foster a culture of willing and acting for the good of their community of co-workers, for their organization and for those the organization serves. Good leaders do this intentionally and usually very naturally.

In Genesis it is clear that God took great care in creation because of his perfect love.  Good leaders also love. They love the people they work for and with in order to achieve a greater purpose.

In the church I serve (and I hope in my family and other places of influence), I want to create those kinds of environments. Places where those I minister alongside can risk greatly, live fully and flourish together in community.  I know I don’t always get it right – especially when I let anxiety make me stupid – but at the end of the day, as a leader I want those around me to know they are loved and have the freedom to creatively live into their callings.

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