Ministry Loves Company

By Pastor Brian

Is change inevitable?  Is it possible?  Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.  As first century critics of Christianity pointed out, it seems as though “All things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation (2 Peter 3:4)”. Sometimes it feels like we’ve spent our whole lives running just to realize we’re on a treadmill: when we’ve tried to quit something for the umpteenth time; when it seems like we’re no better at our work or our ministry.

The message of the resurrection is that things do change.  There is hope.  Things will not always be the way they are now.  Peter will become a leader (John 18:27 & 21:17).  John will become merciful (Luke 9:54 & 1 John 2:1-2). God will bring to completion the work He’s begun in you (Phil 1:6).

God’s chosen vessel for this kind of transformation is community.  God didn’t just call Abraham, He called Abraham’s family and promised to make them a nation.  God gave His law not just to Moses, but to the tribes of Israel.  God didn’t just send His Son, Jesus appointed ones who would be sent.  In His book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg traces the stories of people and organizations who were able to change.  A common thread is the power of community to catalyze that change.  He writes people “changed because they were embedded in social groups that made change easier.” When the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, the disciples were gathered together.  When Peter went to Cornelius’s house and experienced the Spirit given to the Gentiles, he went with friends.  Paul rarely traveled alone.

Being in community creates a plausibility structure.  It changes the types of stories we tell one another and those stories affect what we think is plausible.  If we want to see change in our lives, we need to attend to our communities.  The author of Hebrews writes, “…For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him (11:6),” and “…Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (10:24-25).”

If we spend all our time away from the world, we might lack for stories of what God is doing in the world.  If we spend all our time away from one another, we may lose sight of the fact that God is at work.  By being in the world, but of the gathered people of God, we put ourselves in the place where we see change as not only possible, but probable.  And that is the first step towards making a difference.