by Dave Hintz
So you’ve come to our church and have decided to make it your home. You've become a member and you show up every Sunday. Yet after one, two, or even ten years, you find that you still don’t feel like you’re connecting at church. You see people on Sunday morning and perhaps during some midweek Bible studies, but you don’t spend time with any of them outside of church, and you wouldn’t quite describe your relationships as friendships. So what do you do? Well, here are some pointers on how to get plugged into the fellowship.
- Seek to Minister (instead of being ministered to): Many people show up at church with the expectation that they will be swarmed with friendly people who want to get involved in their lives, that they will be challenged, encouraged, and exhorted in their walks with God, and that this dynamic body of believers will always be available in times of need. In a perfect church this would be a reality. Unfortunately, every church this side of the millennium will fail to achieve this ideal state. When people realize this, they often make the mistake of becoming critical of the church and discontent with the fellowship. Yet it should be asked, “Are you reaching out to the new people, getting involved in their lives, and challenging them?” Reaching out is not the responsibility of the more established members of the local church; it is the responsibility of every single member of the universal church. Don’t focus on the failures of others in this area, but take the log out of your own eye, and be the one who changes this area of weakness in our church. Further, make sure that you focus your ministry on the glory of God. One who reaches out in hopes that others will do the same to him, ministers as a means of serving himself. Yet, one who ministers regardless of others’ response ministers to serve her Maker.
- Make it a priority: Once you have resolved to minister to others regardless of their reaction, commit yourself to being where the people are. Just like a man looking to get married does not journey to Antarctica to find the perfect woman, a Christian looking for fellowship does not isolate himself from his brethren. Go to a Sunday school class, attend an evening Bible study, go to Women Equipping Women or Ironmen, and attend the events. If members of our church will be there, you should be there. Now many people go to Christian activities unrelated to our church, which is fine. But if you want to specifically get plugged into Flint Hills Christian Church, our activities must take precedence over some of those other worthwhile gatherings.
- Take the Initiative: Now, when you attend these activities don’t become a wallflower. Think about it. Let’s say you went to a party where you saw a new person sitting all by herself with a sullen look on her face, arms crossed, cool as a cucumber. Not an inviting picture. How much easier would it be if that person approached you and initiated a conversation? Quite a bit. Don’t think that just because people have been around for a while, it’s easy for them to reach out. If it’s hard for you, it’s hard for them. If you want to get involved in people’s lives, often you have to take the first step. Ask people to share their testimony, find out how you can pray for them, perhaps invite them into your home for lunch after church. Secondly, try getting involved in a ministry. Talk to one of the pastors and we will find a place for you to serve. Ministry provides a wonderful opportunity to form a kinship with others, as you serve the Lord together. Ministry fosters teamwork, selfless attitudes, and camaraderie, and those who are involved in serving often feel far more connected than those who aren’t.
- Pray: Prayer can often be overlooked in this whole process. In the words of Jesus in Luke 11:11-13"Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" God wants to give you good things, including God-glorifying fellowship. Ask, pray, pursue, and God will give this to you.