Families are not perfect. Poor decisions can be made and other people respond poorly to the poor decisions. Without ever intending it, families can become broken. I also know that no congregation is perfect. A cycle of decisions can lead to wounds that just don’t seem to heal. A congregation can become like a broken family with shattered relationships, stalled projects, and a divided future. Families and congregations are not perfect, but do they have to become broken?
We are all broken in our sin, but in the full grace and truth of Jesus we find healing and restoration. I trust that God has made us to live together in community. We find community in our homes. We should also be able to find community in this congregation. At my congregation we are renovating our space this fall to help people not familiar with churches feel expected and welcomed. The inviting design and experience of feeling invited will be a part of our renovations. Living into community will be cultivated by more than just the design of our facility.
In our congregation I want us to be purposeful about certain practices that will help us live together. Christine Pohl wrote in her book Living into Community: Cultivating Practices that Sustain Us, “Good communities and life-giving congregations emerge at the intersection of divine grace and steady human effort.” At this intersection of grace and truth we can be purposeful about living into community.
There is no room for complacency or despair in this congregation. God is at work in this congregation. The promise of the good news of Jesus draws us into the kingdom of God. The presence of Jesus has been forming communities for two thousand years. We are building and maintaining a healthy congregation upon the promises of Jesus. In every community there are practices that hold it together. In our community we will continue to build and maintain the practices of hospitality, making and keeping promises, truthfulness, and gratitude.
The response of our community to the gospel of Jesus Christ will be embodied as we live purposefully these four practices. These four practices are written about in more detail by Chrstine Pohl in her book. Over the next four months this space will include some of the contemporary challenges related to responding to strangers or dealing with our own messy lives as we approach shaping our community joined together by a shared response to the gospel of Jesus.
I want us to get in the habit of noticing and celebrating these practices of hospitality, making and keeping promises, truthfulness, and gratitude. We are not going eliminate complacency and despair by wishing for them go away. Our congregation community should be a living testimony of the life-giving power of Jesus.