The “family of missionary slaves” model of being the church, reminds me of the wheels of an autorickshaw.
For those who do not know yet, the Marg community strives to be a “family of missionary slaves”. This is derived from principles found in the Bible – a local church is actually neither a building nor a 3-hour event on a Sunday. It is instead, people who are :
1. God’s family,
2. God’s missionaries and
3. Slaves to Jesus and to others,
Every day, each week.
Now the autorickshaw, that quintessential Indian vehicle, has three wheels. I like to think of each wheel representing each of the above three aspects, while God’s Holy Spirit could be represented by the vehicle’s engine. Without the engine, the ride ain’t going nowhere.
But if even one wheel goes missing, the church will only go round in circles, defeating it’s own purpose of taking the good news of Christ ahead.
Because we Christians are still fighting it out with the sinful nature within, we could forget or ignore living out one or all three of these Biblical aspects. How can we know if we are lacking? What symptoms do we look for ?
Here are possible signs of a church not living as a family, as God always intended it to. We will look at the other two problems in the coming two weeks.
Problem I. Our church is not living as God’s family.
1. We don’t pray regularly for each others’ specific needs. In fact, we don’t even know what to pray for, because we have been just meeting, greeting, studying, laughing and leaving. But is that how a family operates?
If Jesus were here with us physically today, would he be happy to just smile, ask convenient questions for 5 minutes, discuss the latest movie, study the Bible with us and leave and not be involved deeply with our lives? Would He not pray for his people? In fact, He still does. (Heb 7:24-25)
But do we care enough to pray? Or have we been delegating that task to Jesus Christ with a quick “God bless them please”?
2. We don’t meet up or eat with each other as a family does, regularly. If the church is family to us, do we hang out with others in the church? And by hanging out, let’s for once, look beyond youth chilling out with other youth, or old people sit around with other old people.
When was the last time the youth in your church dined with the veterans? Or do we just prefer to form little groups of our preference? Then how are we different from the world? Then how are we like Jesus?
3. We seldom ask each other in the church for ‘real’ help. When I am in real trouble, I call up my dad. But if we call ourselves “Family” and if we are in need of spiritual counsel or even material help, do we call up a brother or sister who could help?
But the first thoughts that rush in –
“I should not disturb them”.
“They will think I have no shame to ask for help”.
“They must be busy”.
Would a mother think these thoughts when, say her son offers to help with doing the laundry? Does a girl hesitate to ask for support from her big sister when she is down and out?
But many churches sadly foster individualistic lifestyles, when we forget or ignore that church was always meant to be family. Remember and repent -Christ made us His people, one family at the foot of the cross.
4. Our sharing of the gospel with non-believers is mostly an individualistic affair.
Most of us want to tell our friends and neighbours about our awesome Lord Jesus and His love for them. But we find it difficult.
And if you are anything like me, you too would like some help with this.
But here we are, stuck between gears in our efforts to reach out, because we are SO used to doing this all by ourselves. Why not ask our brothers or sisters for help in making plans and inviting friends for the sake of God’s glory?
Or is that too close for comfort? Do we fear exposure? From our God’s family, from our very own?
5. We don’t discuss God’s word in an open, vulnerable & personal fashion as family members ought to.
When was the last time we visited a church friend just because we wanted to understand something we could not understand in 1st Corinthian chapter 12? Or is that too out-dated and not cool?
Many Christian parents take utmost care to build up their children with Godly instruction and in teaching God’s love for them at the cross. When was the last time we showed such care and devotion to help another church member’s spiritual life?
Is a lack of concern for discussing God’s Word, the example Jesus left with us? If not, what are we doing to change this attitude?
These points are here only to help us check our own lives and bring them before Jesus in prayer- and hopefully before God’s family for discussion & encouragement!
These are just some signs of what a church could look like when it is not living as God’s family. Do you know any other signs that may have been missed out here?
Next week : Signs that our church is not living as God’s missionaries.