The Hard Work of Building Relationships

Being around parents and their young children is an interesting thing--especially when a child is first learning to talk. To the outside observer, the child's talk is utter nonsense; yet, somehow the parent seems to understand. The child says, "Baa la mi" (or some other combination of grunts, beeps, or clicks) and the parent gives the child a cup of milk. Amy and I have experienced this with all of our children. We have listened and observed our children for long enough to be able to understand what they are seeking to communicate, even when others have no idea what they said. The ability to understand our children did not happen overnight. It takes time and effort. Other relationships are not much different. If we are really going to get to know others, then it is going to take time and effort. Deep relationships don't happen overnight. They are cultivated over time. Relationships are hard work, but they are well worth the effort. The importance of relationships really comes into focus when we consider what the Bible has to say about relating to one another:

Love one another – Romans 12:10

Honor one another – Romans 12:10

Live in harmony with one another – Romans 12:16; 15:5

Instruct one another – Romans 15:14

Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25

Comfort one another – 2 Corinthians 13:11

Serve one another – Galatians 5:13

Be kind to one another – Ephesians 4:32

Forgive one another – Ephesians 4:32

Address one another with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs – Ephesians 5:19

Submit to one another – Ephesians 5:21

Be truthful to one another – Colossians 3:9

Teach and Admonish one another – Colossians 3:16

Encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18

Build up one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Do good to one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Exhort one another – Hebrews 3:13

Consider how to stir up one another – Hebrews 10:24

Confess sins to one another – James 5:16

Pray for one another – James 5:16

Show hospitality to one another – 1 Peter 4:9

Be humble toward one another – 1 Peter 5:5

So, commit yourself to doing the hard work of building relationships. In case you're wondering where to start, I'll leave you with three thoughts.

First, remember that the most important relationship is a relationship with Jesus. Without a proper relationship with Him, all of your other relationships will never be right.

Second, build relationships in the context of the local church.

Third, meet and build relationships with those who have yet to have faith in Jesus. The Lord can use you to help them find the relationship that they need most desperately.


Attractional Church vs. Missional Church

Watch this video and then think through the following questions:

What are the benefits and drawbacks of the "attractional" approach?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of the "missional" church?

Can these approaches be integrated or are they totally opposed to one another? Why?

The comment section is waiting for you...

Informed Quoters or Informed Readers?

In his article, "The Problem of Evangelical Biblical Illiteracy" David R. Nienhuis expresses his concern regarding Biblical illiteracy among those who claim to hold the Bible in high regard. In his opinion, knowing a few isolated Bible verses or being able to answer trivia questions should not be the goal of Christian education. He writes:
Knowing that Jesus was born in Bethlehem will not in and of itself empower them to speak the language of faith. Satan's use of Scripture in tempting Jesus is clear indication that a merely cognitive level of biblical literacy does not automatically result in the formation of a Christian character. To make a real difference in people's lives, biblical literacy programs will have to do more than simply encourage believers to memorize a select set of Bible verses. They will have to teach people to speak the language of faith...Biblical literacy programs need to do more than produce informed quoters. They need to produce transformed readers.
I believe that Nienhuis is correct. While I believe that Bible memorization is a good part of educating believers, it does not exhaust the task. Here are a couple of suggestions for helping people become transformed readers of Scripture.
  • Teach the Bible as a Story - From beginning to end, the Bible tells one grand story. The plot-line of the Bible moves from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Consummation. We must relate the many stories found within Scripture to the one, unified Story. In other words, we must not treat the Bible as a collection of unrelated stories; every story is part of the drama of redemption. (Recommended Resource: The Jesus Storybook Bible)
  • Ask the "So What?" Question - The goal of reading Scripture is not simply to make us more informed or knowledgeable. Facts are good, but they are not enough--even the demons believe certain facts about God (James 2:19). The things that we learn in the Bible regarding God, ourselves, and the world should lead us to action. For example, the proper response of the one who learns of his or her sinful condition and of Jesus' death and resurrection, is faith and repentance. Every time we read Scripture we should ask the "So what?" question -- "So, what should my response be to what God has revealed to me in His Word?"


Ordinary Events, Extraordinary Opportunity

Has it ever crossed your mind that God may be working through the ordinary events of your life in order to give you the extraordinary opportunity to tell others about Jesus? In other words, keep your eyes and ears open as you interact with people on a daily basis. Your seemingly common conversations with a waitress, a friend, a family member, a co-worker, or a cashier may be a prime opportunity to sharing the good news of Jesus.