EVERYONE HAS A PLACE IN THE CONGREGATION
Article by: Apostle A. Martig
We have a new appreciation for the life in the congregation, having been deprived of it by the pandemic. Those of us who still have the privilege to go to church in person, we are deeply thankful for the opportunity to share the divine service together, even if it is in a restricted fashion. It feels good to be home.
Our Chief Apostle offered the following definition: “A congregation in which we feel at home is one in which everyone comes to seek Jesus Christ – and finds Him.”
- This raises two questions:
- What motivates me to go to church – am I always animated by the longing to seek Jesus Christ and to experience His presence?
- Do I radiate the love of Christ, to allow everyone to find Jesus Christ in the congregation?
We may have observed that the experience some make in the congregation is not always one of true warmth and love. We had once a new family join the congregation, with a young child who was obviously not used to sit still for an extended period of time. After a short while, she would get up and start running around in the sanctuary, even during the divine service. While most tried their best to simply ignore the commotion, some members reacted unkindly. This went on for a few weeks until a retired minister invited the young child to sit next to him. It did not take long until she would sit patiently with her new friend during the entire length of the divine service. This retired minister was willing to leave his comfort zone and make the young child feel the love of Christ.
We may naturally feel more comfortable when we are surrounded by people who are like us, who speak the same language, who share the same interests. We often see this even in the congregation, where people of the same cultural background would sit together. It may cost an extra effort, leaving our comfort zone to share fellowship with those who are different. It is only then, that we experience how we are enriched by our differences. Motivated by our love for God and our neighbour, it is by leaving our comfort zone and reaching out to the “stranger”, that we allow our Lord the opportunity for everyone to find Jesus Christ in the congregation and to experience His love.
Our Mission Statement further clarifies that we want to “cultivate a warm fellowship in which everyone shall experience the love of God and the joy of serving Him and others”.
It is therefore our mission to give everyone in the congregation the opportunity to serve the Lord. None of us has received all the gifts and the Lord has distributed all the gifts necessary within the congregation. Of course, we all strive to give the Lord only the best and we set the standards very high. For our God of love, however, the only standard that leads to perfection is the standard of Love.
Let us contribute to an atmosphere of warmth in the congregation, where everyone feels at home with me and has the opportunity to serve our Lord with joy, to use their gifts, and feel appreciated.