You never really know someone until you live with them or work with them. Everyone has a story. Relationships are at the heart of the gospel. A holy God relating to sinful people and people relating to one another. Relationships are the vertical and horizontal applications of the cross. Relationships are the vehicle through which we move the gospel and love of Jesus to others.
Previously in this series of posts, we considered how the local church should evaluate her effectiveness in fulfilling the Great Commission (Creating a New Scorecard). Also, we took a look at how the local church should understand her purpose in the context of her mission field (Awaken a Sleeping Giant).
Acts 2:42-47 is a snapshot in the life of the early church. From vv 44-45, we learn how relationships serve to focus our efforts to fulfill the Great Commission. A Transformational Church is a congregation who joins God’s mission of sharing the gospel and making disciples. These disciples become more like Jesus and the church then acts as the body of Christ transforming their communities and the world for the Kingdom of God. A Transformational Church is not simply a good church that does good things. Rather, it is a church that focuses stubbornly on the gospel’s ability to change people. The Transformational Church is a community who holds to the belief that God can radically change lives, families, communities and nations.
Relationships Build Community
In Acts 2:44, the Bible reads that all who believed were together. Each individual belonged to a community of faith. Believers cannot grow spiritually if they are not connecting relationally. A person who has little or no desire to connect with others in biblical community has a spiritual problem.
The importance of a community of faith in an individual’s life cannot be underestimated. It produces family. We live life together. This community of faith becomes the first place you turn to celebrate as well as to grieve. This is what the Bible refers to as fellowship. Fellowship costs something. We will have to sacrifice in order to enjoy and benefit from the fellowship. Such fellowship is preeminently a work of the Holy Spirit. Fellowship happens as we draw close to God (1John 1:3).
Relationships Facilitate Ministry
Relationships must be intentional, but they are not a program. Relationships are the substance of church culture. Relationships create ministry environments and opportunities to share the love and gospel of Jesus with others.
The key concept is to be INCARNATIONAL. Jesus came so we must go. Ministry means getting involved in the lives of others. Incarnationally intentional relationships say “You matter! I care about you.” Such ministry relationships help seal up the cracks and close the back door to keep people connected to the family of faith.
Serving in the harvest fields of ministry also has a unifying effect on the local church. The bonds of fellowship are strengthened when we work, live and serve in life together.
In the Kingdom of God, relationships are essential to the local church’s mission. If relationships are God’s chosen delivery system for grace, mercy, love and the gospel, then they are worthy of our highest focus.