Summary: Sermon #5 of 6 sermons entitled "I’m in!" dealing with the ways people participate in the life of the local congregation. This message deals with connecting with other christians, making friends, etc. Ideas borrowed from Southeast Christian Church, Louisv
CHCC: February 1, 2009
Today is the 5th week in our series that’s called “I’m In!” So far Ronnie has talked about worshipping together, and studying God’s word in community. Then I spoke about finding a place to serve and giving generously. Today is about the importance of building relationships in the church. And next week will be about sharing our faith.
The 7th week will be a special Sunday that we’re calling “Count Me In!” Sunday. On that day Ronnie and I are going to tag-team it for the message … and then it’s YOUR turn! We’ll give all of you a chance to respond at the end of the service. I think it will be a great day for our church.
I recently read some interesting statistics that show how IMPORTANT relationships are in our lives. The American Institute of Stress conducted research on 232 patients who had undergone cardiac surgery. Of those patients, 21 died within six months.
Here are 2 of the significant mortality predictors that they listed: “a lack of participation in social or community groups” and “the absence of strength and comfort from religion.”
Author Randy Frazee cites this report as indicating that social activity can predict cardiac mortality as strongly as elevated cholesterol levels. He said the studies show that social isolation contributes to illness and death as much as smoking. Then he gave this humorous advice: “So if you feel you must smoke, for goodness sake, don’t do it alone!” (Making Room for Life, by Randy Frazee)
Obviously relationships are important. But having MEANINGFUL relationships in our culture seems to be getting harder and harder to do. Families don’t live near each other. We move around so much that it’s rare to have life-long friendships. It’s common for people to have their closest relationships over the Internet or on the phone … with people they hardly ever see in person!
1. What creates Meaningful Relationships in the church?
During all of my life, my church relationships have been the most meaningful friendships I’ve had. These are people that I can actually see IN PERSON at least once a week. Because of the church, I can watch the children of members grow up and live life alongside people through the good times and the bad.
Acts 2:44-47 describes the first church as that kind of place … a place where people could and DID build Meaningful Relationships: All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Notice, they met together in the temple courts—so there was one big assembly for 3000+ in the beginning. But they also met in individual homes, they ate together, they opened their hearts to each other, they praised God together, they shared with those who were in need and prayed for those who were in trouble.
In a book called The Connecting Church, Randy Frazee breaks down the church into three groups: (1) In the big group there is inspiration (that’s the worship service). (2) In the medium size group (like our Sunday classes) there is information—in-depth instruction taking place there. (3) In the smaller group (like our Pueblo groups) there is fellowship and intimate caring. We want everyone who comes into our church to move to some level of involvement with other believers, to move from casual toward meaningful relationships.
When you join with us here at CHCC, we want church to be much MORE than a 1-hour event once a week. We want this to become your FAMILY … your “home away from home.” We want you to develop a circle of friends where you can be cared for … and where you can help care for others. We want this to be a place where you can let down your guard and be REAL.
That’s one of my favorite things about our folks here. Our folks don’t tend to “put on airs” or pretend to be something they’re not. We have a lot of people here who simply want to Follow Jesus in every way they can. They don’t claim to be perfect, and they don’t expect YOU to be perfect either!
Another thing I enjoy about our church is that we’re a nice size. (Don’t get me wrong, I want to grow bigger! Right now CHCC is big enough to be able to offer a variety of ministries … but we’re small enough that no one needs to get lost in the crowd. I think that’s especially valuable when you live in a big CITY like San Antonio. It’s nice when your church has a small-town feeling.