Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Today’s Topic: Start Connecting
Today’s Text: Acts 2:44-47 (ESV)
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
No, you are not imagining this. You are not dreaming. It is really happening. You have received a long overdue Connecting Points devotional from Pastor John. I will give you a moment to pick yourself up and recover.
Recently I received a request to start writing these devotionals again, and I made a commitment to do it consistently starting in January. But last night at the Elder meeting I was encouraged to begin now, and I was even given a topic with which to begin. So today I want to write a Connecting Point about Connecting.
If you ask the average person in our church they would say that we are a very friendly bunch. Most newcomers to our church agree. But it is becoming very evident that there is a difference between being friendly and being connected. There are days when I meet dozens of friendly people as I meander through life. There are friendly clerks at stores, friendly customers in lines, friendly drivers in cars around me, friendly waitresses at restaurants, and friendly passers-by on the street.
Yet in most people’s lives, very few connections are made with any of the friendly people we see. We don’t ask for the waitress’s name, and even if they’re wearing a name badge we don’t try to learn it and use it as they serve us. We don’t talk to the people in the check-out line with us, and the only conversation we have with the cashier is when we disagree about the price of an item. Rather than lift a finger to wave at the driver of the car near us, we shake a finger in frustration at what they did to delay our progress. And other than the standard “How are you?” question we ask to appear friendly and connected, we never go any deeper, and we hope they don’t break protocol and answer with something other than “I’m fine. How are you?”
We have deferred all personal connections to people to the most impersonal world of social media. We are losing our interpersonal relational skills. Asking for someone’s name scares us to death because it may lead to deeper conversation which will require time, transparency, and trust, all of which we keep locked up in a safe to prevent loss or pain.
Our church is growing – FAST. I met a family for the first time on Sunday who has been attending since September. I was embarrassed, until I realized that with the size of our congregation it is going to be impossible for me to meet everyone. But someone has to meet them. Someone has to connect with them, or they will leave and we will become an unfriendly church that cares only about staying small enough to never be stretched. I was so glad to hear that they were already connected to another family in our church and had a relationship with them.
I also saw another new couple in church on Sunday. They arrived early and I got to greet them. I had remembered them from their first visit to our church the previous week. We chatted for a moment, and they headed for the coffee fellowship. They got their food and coffee, and sat down at one of the tables. After about five minutes of observing multiple people walk past them without any form of greeting, I went over to talk to them some more. I was embarrassed again, not because I hadn’t done my part, but because others were so busy that they didn’t notice a new face and try to make a connection.
One of the marks of the early church was that they truly cared about one another, spent time with one another, and welcomed all those who were daily being added to their number as God brought them to salvation. One of the marks of a truly healthy church is that there is always room for more – not in the building, but in the believer’s lives.
So I want to challenge you to start connecting. When you see a face – any face – that you don’t recognize, simply walk up to them and ask, “Have we met?” Then make a connection. Move beyond friendly into the realm of fellowship. It will not only bless you as you see God stretch your boundaries and your limitations and fill you with His grace to do it, but it will bless those who are new as they see that there is a place for them to connect to God and grow in their faith.