Two weeks ago we began a summer message series entitled “Shepherding A City”. Our goal is to look at areas we’re given responsibility to grow, nurture, protect, and care for those who we find ourselves living near, working with, or encountering in our daily lives. It comes as a result of prayer for the environment in which God has placed us, but then learning to “live” in that place.
Last week I quoted portions of Jeremiah 29 about being people who seek the peace of the city. That chapter is also where God tells His people to go ahead and build houses, plant vineyards, get married, and live among the people you’re with. His intent is that their life will begin to make a change in those around them, and their strength will grow instead of sitting around waiting for God to do something based on their intentions rather than His.
Today I want to talk about what a healthy church really looks like. Most are aware that at TCOTWSC we live with the vision of “loving God, serving people, and changing lives”. That drives us to keep our focus in the right place while having something tangible to measure results. But what is the church supposed to look like as it does these things? In pondering that I’m led to three words that I believe will help our understanding.
Co•op•er•a•tion : noun
• the process of working together to the same end
• assistance, especially by ready compliance with requests
• the formation and operation of cooperatives.
Col•lab•o•ra•tion : noun
• the action of working with someone to produce or create something
• something produced or created in this way
Com•mu•ni•ty : noun
• people living together in one place practicing common ownership, collectively having social values and responsibilities in common
• fellowship with others, sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals
• interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat
Admittedly, these three definitions are rather “Websteresque”, but they have significant importance in the structure of a church. They cause us to see the church in light of its scriptural purpose. This may all require rethinking on our parts, but if we don’t do it, none of us grow as God intends. Individually we’d suffer greatly—collectively we’d completely miss the mark. Today we’re looking at how this works at TCOTWSC. This reminds me of the African proverb: “Alone I can run fast, but together we can run far.”
Run with me!