Episode 1. Part of the Family
Being part of a family – as delight, but it can be a challenge. It’s a place of safety and nurture, but it’s also a place where we learn to serve, to humble ourselves and to submit to authority.
Join Berni Dymet as he takes a look at God’s family – from A Different Perspective.
There is something so incredibly special about being part of a family.Okay there are stresses and strains and some families these days can be a bit dysfunctional but when we’re part of a family that is functioning the way God always intended it, it’s incredibly special. There’s love and nurture and support.Family is where we learn many of life skills.It’s where we learn to put others first. It’s where we learn to sacrifice.It’s where we learn to be effective people who can operate independently and collaborate.
When you look at society where families are broken down, there you’ll find the whole society’s falling apart.Family, it turns out, is one of those basic building blocks that we just can’t do without.It’s true in life generally and it’s also true in our spiritual walk.God’s family, the family of Christ followers is called the Church.The problem is, for so many people these days, Church is a four letter word.
I remember twelve years ago when I gave my life to Jesus, I wanted to be around other Jesus followers, to learn and to grow and to be nurtured just like in a family.The problem I had was I had so much baggage about this Church thing.As a child I used to go to Church with my parents and it was boring to a child, I learned to wiggle my ears during Church services.I used to think Church was irrelevant, it had nothing to do with real life.
I used to think that Church was full of old people, people who looked grey and old like they go to Church and they’re boring. And I was afraid that some sect or cult would brainwash me.Cultural, but these were real themes for me.Yet when I came to faith in Jesus Christ I wanted to be part of Gods family.And you know God has an amazing plan, a plan to make us part of His family.A plan to nurture us, encourage, teach, transform, grow, set free and those things happen when we’re in the community of believers.There’s nothing more wonderful than being part of vibrant faith community.
In Ephesians, chapter 1, in verse 5 it says that, “In love, God always planned for us to be adopted as sons and daughters of His.”Now this is not something to be afraid of, this is something to look forward to.The apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans, chapter 8, verse 15.”God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us a slave again to fear but a spirit of adoption so that we can cry Abba (Dad).Gods Holy Spirit tells our spirits deep inside that we’re His kids (family) and as His children, we’re heirs of God and joint heirs (co-heirs) with Christ.”Being part of a vital, dynamic, faith community is part of Gods plan.It’s a place of encouragement and accountability.
Well, how do I choose a Church?How do I choose a faith community that works for me? That’s a good question, there are so many different denominations and approaches to this thing that we call Church. And you know, there are some Churches that I just wouldn’t send somebody to, it’s sad but true.Now my job isn’t to tell you, ‘go to this one or that one’ or ‘go to this denomination or go to that denomination’.I just want to share with you today the importance of being part of a vibrant faith community and some of the things that you might look out for in choosing one to be part of but finding the right one isn’t quite like finding the nearest supermarket that meets all our apparent needs.There are many different types of faith communities that reflect different priorities and different values.
Proximity, apparent sincerity and size aren’t the only criteria for choosing the best one for you.It’s not all about convenience, it’s not all about ‘me’ so what should we look for?Well, first things first, I’d encourage you to pray about this sincerely.God knows which faith community, which Church He wants you to be in so that He can nurture your relationship with Him and here are a few questions that you might want to ask as you visit different Churches or faith communities to help you sort out which one is the most appropriate for you.
The first one is, does this Church faithfully teach Gods word, the Bible?Do they open the Bible with the intention of hearing what God has to say to us or is the preaching a whole bunch of ‘feel good froth and bubble’?You know sometimes people use the Bible more as a passing reference to support what they think.Does it teach Gods word faithfully?
Is having a passionate relationship with the risen Jesus at the heart of the community’s faith or is there some other, more subtle focus?Are people really hungry for a relationship with God Himself or do they chase more after other things like money or success?
Is there a real sense of family and community?I mean, do the people support and encourage each other and look after each other?I mean, do they see each other during the week or do they just rock up on Sundays?Is it a community or is it an organisation?
Is the leadership of the Church a team?Not just a high profile individual, a team, a Godly group of people who lead by example and by servanthood.
What sort of impression does this faith community give about other Christian traditions and denominations?Is it gracious or is it negative and critical?You know, I’ve been in Churches that every Sunday they had to criticize other Churches and say, “We’re the only one.”That’s a bit scary.
Is there evidence of a sense of accountability to historical Christian beliefs or a large organisation or does this place feel more like a cult, claiming to be the only holders of the truth and trying to manipulate people through religion?That’s one of the things that concerned me when I was looking for a Church.
Is there a balance between affirming faith and what’s in the Bible and making it contemporary and relevant today?
Do they make you feel guilty or anxious because you don’t give enough money or you lack certain experience or you don’t come up to a certain standard or is the Church gracious in allowing you to grow and to learn and to develop as you get to know Jesus?And when you do ask a sincere question, how do they respond?Do you feel encouraged to ask more questions when it’s appropriate or do people just want to close you down?
And finally, is the focus of this community outwards both locally and internationally to help other people and give them the good news of Jesus Christ, share Jesus with them or does it feel more like a country club that’s just there just for the members?
Now they’re just some questions that I asked myself when I was looking around for a Church to be part of. And I walked up to a little Church and I saw this Church and I became part of this Church when I first became a Christian, the Oyster Bay Christian Church it was called, just in my local suburb.And God just led me there and the teacher, Pastor Phil, was just such a faithful teacher of the Bible and it was such a good community of nurturing, loving people.
That’s what a faith community is supposed to look like, that’s what a Church is supposed to look like and yeah, there are different styles, contemporary and more traditional but is this a place that Jesus is at?