The first question we asked our cells in order to gather some discernment about where God is leading us was this:
“When a newcomer or unbeliever gets to know us, whether in a cell or Sunday Meeting, through one of our events or teams, or through an individual, what are the things they will most immediately notice about us and what gifts will they find easiest to access?”
What do you think?
We dared to take Paul seriously when he tells the Corinthian church: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Cor. 13:5). If we can be honest about what others see in us, we will not just follow the scripture, we will probably follow our humility right into spiritual growth! We are who we are, but who knows what we might become if we listen?.
Our cells had a LOT to say about this question (and all the other questions!). When I set my mind to sort all their responses, I came up with eighteen different headings for this first one! I was encouraged by what the cell members thought people see in us when they first get to know us. I thought you might be encouraged too. I am not going to list all eighteen things! But I thought I would give you ten. I’ll give you my heading and then one of the answers I culled out which intrigued or moved me. So you get my heading and one answer verbatim.
Whether you are part of our church or not, these things might give you something to think about. What’s more, I don’t doubt someone who is in our church will think the person I quote does not completely know what they are talking about. So we all might have more to think about, too. Regardless, I think we’d all like to be a church moving in the direction these thoughts signal.
Whether you think your church is seen in these ways or you think it just ought to be, let’s pray that we get there. Yesterday was Pentecost, and the Spirit of God is moving to take us into our fullness.
Here are ten ways the cell members think newcomers see us:
We are welcoming/hospitable/friendly/open.
- You can be who you are. You are relevant. You have an opportunity to an actual path where God is leading you. Walk with us – not your fear or a stereotype.
We create a distinct atmosphere.
- We create an atmosphere where we try to attract those who are timid with things like the bible through our vulnerability showing it is OK to have doubts and disbelief.
We are a connected community.
- We are not an obligation – this community is real and authentic and people are here out of choice. We are not a thing to do. We want to know you.
Leadership is respected and varied.
- Leaders don’t have to be older, mature people who have all their stuff together. Anyone can potentially be a leader and should see their gifts and insight valued and nurtured (not just for white male extroverts).
We have an open seeking spirit.
- Vulnerability in sharing by both women and men. It’s good modeling by those in leadership because it sets a space to be real and to address deep set needs – we are a deep people because of this.
We are devoted to compassion.
- Our good works are a natural progression from our togetherness
- It is not hard to get resources of spiritual direction (informal), counseling, financial help, job connections.
We take action, are ambitious, intentional.
- We are doers of the word. While other may talk about examples of how you may get involved the overwhelming expectation is that we are people who live through action and action particularly for both one another and those with need.
We expect people to participate.
- They can get connected to anything (cell, team’s, leadership, etc.), the church is their oyster.
We are committed to dialogue.
- It is the judge-free zone. We all pretty openly discuss a lot of topics, personal and otherwise with widely varying opinions sometimes, and no one is upset.
When you answer the question about your church, what are the answers YOU get? Let’s keep praying for the Holy Spirit to move us into the place the Lord would like us to be.
[Originally published on Circle of Hope’s blog]