The Need For Healthy Strong Church Community

bumper_cars2Do not despise community to preserve your weirdness or pet doctrine. Community is where we are fitly joined together… sometimes with dynamite and bulldozers required. It is hard to learn honor in a vacuum.

I posted this yesterday. In part in response to the goofiness I have seen over the years. It seems like we are undergoing another round.

God created us, hard wiring us for relationship and community.
Hebrews 10:24-25 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

When I am on my own and in my own head, I have the ability to think everything I say, believe and do is right and okay. But experience tells me clearly that is not the case. I understand the hurt and the pain of being in a bad or abusive community, but all it did for me is point in the direction of great grace and understanding. I am not pointing the finger at anyone because like David, when I look back there are more than few that “died” in my wake.

A spiritual dad once said to me, “we will be fitly joined together, though sometimes we may need to use dynamite and bulldozers to accomplish it.” At the time I think he meant being hard on people is okay. I disagree. Being hard because you can be does not work. What are we calling people up to?

I thought how dismayed I was the day I bought a new car and someone opened a door into it and took off. Only the other day someone broke my mirror and drove off. I know it bothered me less. Please tell me I am not getting used to people’s dumbness and disregard! I saw a friend’s car a week or so ago and someone had keyed the door. Minor damages that cost a lot, changed the appearance and reducing the “feel good.”  Life can be like that. Church probably ought not be like that.

Years ago I coined the term, “bumper car meetings.” (Bumper cars-see picture-are all plugged into the same source, run by electricity.)The kind where it is someone you know coming towards you. You may think everything is going to be okay and then they drop a bombshell on you. The best ones sound like this, “will you forgive me for being angry at you all these years for something you said in 1996?” At some point I got used to people carrying garbage and throwing it.

Over the years I began to more and more evaluate honor in the body of Christ.  I feel my personal church culture is that and getting better all the time. What I find disheartening is those that have been hurt dropping in from time to time with no agenda other than hurting people.

If you feel you are disconnected or recognize you are prone to bumper car behavior, I am going to ask you to evaluate your life. Is your culture the one that needs help? I know too many outside the church community who think their behavior is edifying and honorable. While some may be, my experience is that the enemy tap dances on your mind convincing you that you have all the answers, when in fact he has walked you down a path of isolation and deception. I am okay with seasons of talking to God. But when your season ends return to that which God designed you for. Community, edification and encouragement.

Please understand I am not suggesting go where you have been hurt, but I do encourage you to find something healthy. Burnout, depression, coupled with mixture and fire breathing law are not healthy and I get it.

For the prophetic people reading this. It is important you stay connected. I know from personal experience I can get caught up in all that is going on. I am thankful to be part of an apostolic church. (I suspect that Antioch was such and prophetic people were drawn there.) I am thankful for the culture of honor that is developing and the safety of the house. Let’s be real. There are some weird prophetic types out there. Some try to be weird and some really are! With that said, they perhaps need a place of safety a lot more.

I am not going to give steps to a better community, but I am going to encourage you to seek community.  To encourage and edify. To have real relationships and to be okay with some of the stuff being knocked off. Maturity can and will happen in the body of Christ operating together.  Spiritual maturity can only happen in the body of Christ. Behavior will change in light of community.

Because I often find myself brought in to help others, I search thinking and process. I am always evaluating my own life by God’s standard and not my own. I found this evaluation. It is not perfect and not to be the plumbline of truth that scripture is. But it has value. (Especially if you grew up in dysfunction and feel you have white spaces or missing links.)

The Behavioral Maturity Quiz

Take time to think about where on the scale you would place yourself. Be honest even if it hurts or feels embarrassing. Awareness of the way you tend to act is your first step toward achieving behavioral maturity. After you have answered the questions, ask your spouse or a person close to you to rate you on the same scale.

Never(1) Rarely(2) Sometimes(3) Often(4) Always(5)

1. In my daily life I distinguish between fact and opinion.
2. I accept opinions different from mine and don’t feel persecuted and violated.
3. I have an open mind when I talk with others about controversial subjects.
4. I allow others the freedom to express their opinions to me.
5. I listen thoughtfully to what others have to say to me.
6. I change my mind in the face of new and different information.
7. I continue to think and do not get emotional when someone criticizes me.
8. I am aware of how I generally respond to emotionally tense situation. For example, I know that I always bristle when my mother makes suggestions to me.
9. I am able to recognize when I am thinking about an issue and when I am feeling emotions.
10. I have enough self-control to choose whether I respond to my thoughts or to my feelings depending on circumstances.
11. In arguments I try to resolve the difference or convey my beliefs rather than seek agreement or approval.
12. I quickly return to my normal activities after a period of stress.
13. I function as an independent person even though I am emotionally connected to my family.
14. I remain emotionally connected to my family even while I function as an independent person.
15. I fulfill myself as a person even while I am maintaining an intimate relationship.
16. When I dissolve a relationship, I do it in a thoughtful, non-vindictive way.
17. When I don’t express my feelings because I believe I will hurt someone, I am likely to develop physical symptoms—i.e. headaches, high blood pressure. (depression cp)

Note that the categories on the scale are in reverse order for the following four questions:

Always(1) Often(2) Sometimes(3) Rarely(4) Never(5)

18. I try to change people over to my way of thinking.
19. I blame others for what goes wrong in my life.
20. I blame myself when I get into trouble with others.
21. I do things mainly to get other people’s approval.

The higher you scored, the more behaviorally mature you are. This self-assessment quiz is not intended to be a research instrument, but the results should help you understand yourself and your reactions better. Your purpose in taking it is not to compare your score with others but to help you identify styles you have that may be getting in the way of fulfilling intimate relationships.

 

 

Written by Lee Johndrow

Lee Johndrow

Lee is on staff as the Prophetic Ministry Leader at the Village Church where he functions as one of the prophetic grace. (You can visit their site at www.villagechurchswanzey.com)

He is the father of five wonderful children. Married for over 22 years to his wife Tina. 7 grandchildren as of September 22, 2014, with another one on the way! Loving life with family, friends, faith, fun and food!


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