Sunday, October 2nd - Why I Love My Church - Series Kickoff

What a great few weeks we've had at MLBC! It seems fitting that we begin a series titled "I Love My Church" as we wrap up our annual Missions Conference. The love people have for their church and one another has been on display throughout the conference, which is one reason I believe it was such a success.

This past Sunday, Pastor John delivered a kick-off sermon for this new series. I must say, several statements from Sunday have been in the forefront of my mind this week as I continue to digest and pray over the impact they had on me. Let's dig in!
How do people feel when they think about "the church"? What descriptive words come to their mind...

Pastor John started off with an illustration involving imagery of places like the DMV, grocery store, and doctor's office, and got us thinking "what words come to mind when I see this image?" I must say, none of the words that came to my mind were positive ones. These are all places I avoid, when possible. But this leads us to the question above - what do people think or feel when they think about "the church"?

Hopefully, for those of us attending MLBC, we would say things like: community, safe, welcoming, healing or family. However, we know this is not true for everyone. If you haven't put some serious thought into this question, I'd challenge you to think on it and leave a comment below. What are some words that you think non-believers or non-attenders may associate with church? (Not necessarily MLBC, the church in general.)
The 4 Pillars of Marsh Lane Baptist Church
Generational - Biblical - Intentional - Relational

I must say, I've always appreciated these 4 Pillars of MLBC ever since the first time I saw them listed. There is much to unpack in each of these pillars, and if done correctly, these will create an environment that is honoring to God and beneficial for everyone involved.

The question is - are we honoring these? Does our congregation span multiple generations? Are the teachings Biblical, and are the members seeking Biblical truth in their daily walk? Are the actions of the church intentionally seeking to grow the Kingdom of God? Are we building meaningful, God honoring relationships? While I can give my own opinion on each of these, the challenge is for you to examine this truth in your experience.

This led Pastor John to a humbling question, one that has stuck with me this week. If you were in attendance, you'll remember that we had the house lights turned all the way up. Pastor John gave us a few moments to look around the entire congregation and study the faces that we saw - how many faces could you put a name to? I know for me personally, there were too many faces without a name. I find it interesting that all 4 pillars listed above can be found in the simple act of learning the names of people at church you don't already know.

Generational - get to know someone younger or older than yourself.
Biblical - Scripture has a lot to say about building community within the church. Think about where it all started - Jesus and His disciples. I would say this was a tight-knit bunch!

Intentional - getting to know others requires intentionality. We're all different when it comes to social interactions, and for some this is a tougher obstacle than others. Regardless, we must be intentional in seeking out those in the church we need to get to know better.

Relational - this one is self explanatory. To be relational, we must build relationships!

Obviously, these 4 pillars of MLBC apply to much more than this...but I feel like this can be a great starting point! As we approach this Sunday, think about one of those faces you couldn't put a name to: be intentional this Sunday about introducing yourself to them and start building a relationship with them! Even if they belong to a different generation, for the Bible calls us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ - regardless of age, gender, hobbies, etc... Meet someone knew this Sunday! 
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - John 13:34-35

As Pastor John said Sunday, "[This] is the single most important identifying mark of a body of believers who claim the name of Jesus Christ - how they care about each other."

As we see in the passage above, loving the church is not a suggestion. One of the last things Jesus instructed His disciples during His time on this earth was to love another the way He loved them, so that others would know they were His followers. To take this one step further - how did Jesus love His disciples? He died for them.

Not only is this a commandment, it's a big one. We have been instructed by God to love our fellow believers in a way that is selfless, sacrificial and unconditional. While it may seem like a "burden", think about this - if everyone in the church showed this type of love to one another, do you really think anyone would go without? Would anyone suffer hardships alone? Would anyone carry their burdens without a shoulder to lean on? No! If we truly embraced this command, all believers in the church would experience a community unlike any other. I'm sure this is no surprise to you, but this idea of a loving, selfless community doesn't really exist outside of the church. If we can live out this command from Jesus at MLBC, the reward is two-fold: we honor Christ by mirroring the church He established - we shine light into a dark world that sees God's love through the way we love one another.

As Pastor said, people will attend church for a lot of reasons. However, people will stay at a church because they have built relationships with fellow believers there. What relationships are you cultivating at MLBC? 
Ways to Love Your Church:
Love by Connecting
Love by Serving
Love by Giving
Love by Sharing

We will be exploring each of these throughout the month of October, so I hope you plan to join us and learn how to practically love your church! 
Conversation Starter:
- What do you think non-attenders think when they see the church? What words come to mind?

Personal Reflection:
- In what way do you see the 4 Pillars of MLBC in your personal connection to the church? 
- What relationships are you cultivating at the church? 
- Who are you going to introduce yourself to this Sunday? 

1 Comment

Hunter Jaggers - October 11th, 2022 at 5:08pm

Hey, Cade! Another great blog. Adding my thoughts!

The words that I think folks might think in relation to the church are judgmental, hypocritical & generous. Throwing one positive one knows there!

It can definitely be scary to introduce yourself to new-to-you people because of the fear of being rejected or misunderstood. I know I’ve felt that way, but I will definitely meet someone new-to-me at church this week!

I love how you said “we have been instructed by God to love our fellow believers in a way that is selfless, sacrificial & unconditional”.

I find it fairly easy to talk myself out of going up to someone, but it becomes much more difficult when I remember that this instruction is from God. I also like that you brought up *how* we are to love. I’m a selfish person. I can’t love in those ways all on my own. I have to actively rely on the Lord to love folks. His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

I’ve personally been cultivating relationships with Journey & also some women, but I’d love to cultivate with Caleb, Touchstone & Krave!