Welcoming Messy Community

When my wife Lisa went back to work a couple months ago, we started taking our son to daycare.  It was a hard decision and process, as we’d been with him every moment of his life and now somebody else would be caring for him part time.  But what reassured me and continues to, is every morning, I take him to the front door and one of the managers recognizes me, greets us, and is so excited to see us.  “My little man”, she says to Dylan each time as she takes his temperature and then lets me say good bye to him for the day.  Besides the fact that I have to stay outside the building, I still always feel welcomed and cared about because of her attitude and enthusiasm.

I still remember some of the people I met first when I started coming to Cornerstone.  The first Cornerstone person I actually met was not at service, but it was Lucie at Freedom Immersion, and I was struck by how friendly she was to me.  Throughout that Freedom Immersion weekend, more Cornerstone people would pray for me and were so kind.  My first service, I was introduced to my friend David, who brought me in with his friends, and I never checked out another church.  One of Cornerstone’s strengths is how we make people feel like family from the moment they join us, and it’s one of things we hear the most comments about.  

Nowadays, my hope is to see more of our ministry continue through community groups, not just bringing people to church services.  When we do life with others, they see all sides of us and see how Jesus comes through all aspects of life.  They don’t just see the perfect Christians who come to worship on Sunday, they see the broken redeemed who live out our faith in the midst of goodness AND struggle.  It requires vulnerability not just with those who we are comfortable with, but even those who don’t share our same beliefs.  

This also means that community is going to be messy.  At multiple times, as the early church was forming, there was misunderstanding, corrections for the leaders and members of the body done in love and most of all, discomfort with adding Gentiles to a culturally and biologically Jewish church.  After visiting and baptizing Cornelius (a Gentile) and all his family in the name of Jesus, Peter shares the story and his vision to his fellow Jewish believers in Acts 11.  While there is struggle at the beginning, by the end at verse 18,

When they heard these things, they fell silent.  And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also, God has granted repentance that leads to life!”

It’s this attitude of seeing God at work that moves this Jewish church to embrace their brothers and sisters in Christ, even if they weren’t the same or they didn’t understand each other at first.  I’d encourage us to approach bringing people into our community groups with the same attitude we welcome them to service.  I hope we can say, “I will work past my discomfort to see God’s work being done in this person’s life.”  

The image I put with this blog I love because it's board game pieces called meeples (mini-peoples), but it also visually reminds us, that while we are all different outwardly and we may be all over the place emotionally and spiritually, our basis for unity is the same:  our love for Jesus, who brings us together and wants us to bring others to know Him as well.  Romans 12:4-5 reminds us of this principle,

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

COVID has made it different for sure.  But that shouldn't stop us from enthusiastically finding and welcoming people into this messy family of brothers and sisters.  

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