Jump Start # 2083
Colossians 2:2 “that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is Christ Himself”
I finished speaking at a church last evening in the Indy area. First time I ever preached at that congregation. Having spent a few days with them you can sense a special bond that they had. I referred to this as a special chemistry. Some churches have it and some don’t.
Our verse today speaks of hearts that were knit together in love, a necessary aspect for a congregation to move forward and upward with the Lord. I don’t know much about knitting. My grandma used to weave rugs on an ancient loom. But the idea and the concept is pulling different stands together and uniting them so they not only are connected but together they form a strong unit or bond. Knit together. Joined together. Connected. United. That’s the idea. And, the key component to keep things from pulling apart is having the right chemistry.
We understand the importance of chemistry when it comes to dating. I once heard a preacher, a long, long time ago, make the claim that any single Christian man and any single Christian woman ought to be able to date because of Christ. I was single when I heard that. I knew a lot of single Christian girls. I also knew that there was no way that I would ask some of them out and I also knew that there was a bunch that would turn me down if I did ask them. There has to be some chemistry there. In the world of dating, chemistry is love, romance and attraction. That grows into a marriage. Without a chemistry, a man and woman become roommates, partners but what they lack is being knit together. Biblically, it’s two becoming one.
So, just what does chemistry look like within a congregation? What is it?
First, it’s folks who like each other. That’s one of the surest ways of seeing this chemistry. Before services begin and especially afterwards, there is a lot of chit-chatting going on. You see people hanging around for a long time talking. There are smiles, laughter, hugs, deep conversations filling the air. Those that are in charge of turning out the lights and locking the doors, often wait and wait because these people are not in any hurry to leave each other’s company.
Now, I’ve witnessed the opposite of this. By the time the last “Amen” is said, folks scatter. The building empties out fast and everyone goes their way. Sometimes you can just walk into a place and feel the tension. There isn’t much joy taking place. You sense people really do not want to be there. You see this in other areas. I’ve sat in waiting rooms while my car was being worked on. You strike up a conversation and it kills the time. But have you noticed, when you are waiting at the dentist’s office, no one wants to talk. They just sit in silence. Nothing wrong with the dentist. I’ve known some great dentists, it’s just the fact that most folks would rather be any where else. They want to get out of there as soon as they can. That’s the same experience some congregations leave. You can tell that some don’t want to be there. For them, going to worship, is about the same as sitting in the dentist office. What’s missing is hearts that are knit together.
Second, there is a genuine concern for each other. The congregation I was with in Indy had some recent deaths. In fact, there had been a funeral when I was there. That’s enough to put a gloom and doom in the air, but it didn’t. You’d see folks talking to those who were mourning. There were invitations to come and eat with others. There were lots of hugs and lots of offers to help. You could tell these folks really cared. That’s chemistry. That’s a valuable part of fellowship. We are fellows, in the same ship. We are traveling together. We endure similar things. There are a lot of us, all around my age now, who are having to have serious conversations with our aging parents about driving and assisted living. Those are not easy conversations. But we find ourselves all going through this. Chemistry is about caring. It’s about making the journey easier. It’s about helping someone. It’s about being there. It’s about bearing each other’s burdens.
You can tell when the chemistry is missing when someone states, “No one cares about me.” Alone in a crowd. No friends. No fellowship. Just sitting in a pew each week among people that I may know their names but that’s about it. When that chemistry is missing, a person won’t reach out to others. He will try to figure things out himself. He may turn to his friends for help or advice. He won’t have that powerful network of fellow believers to support him, encourage him and strengthen him.
You have to make yourself available for people to know you and care for you. Lower your guard. Remove the masks you wear and tear down the walls you have built, so people can get to know you. Some fear, if they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me, so they pretend to be what they are not. They begin relationships that are not genuine. When you are invited out with someone, go. Stick around. Strike up conversations. Stop pretending to be perfect because you are not and neither is anyone else. There are people who would love to know you and include you.
Finally, chemistry is built around transparency. Openness. This is true in marriage and this is true in a fellowship. Secrets kill chemistry. Inner groups that only include certain ones and not others, kills chemistry. When leaders operate in secret and no one knows what’s going on, or, what the plans are, or where we are headed, it kills the chemistry. Jesus told the apostles that everything the Father told Him. Complete transparency. No suspicion. No guessing. No ’I don’t know what’s going on.’
Strong churches have great chemistry. It’s not based upon the size of the church. I’ve been around some small places, and it was missing. They wanted to gossip about each other, point fingers at the world and stick their tongue out at other churches. Long week, when I go to places like that. It’s no wonder they are small. Who would want to be a part of that mess? It’s the people that set the tone, temperature and the chemistry of a congregation. Leaders make all the difference. The spirit of sermons. The attitude of shepherds. The connections to the flock. All of those things matter. I’ve seen the spirit of congregations change. I’ve seen the chemistry change. Congregations have gone from being moody, stingy, and mean to having hearts that are knit together in love. The leadership has much to do with this. Their attitudes and their examples and the way they deal with people and the way they go about the business of leading can be warm and helpful or mean and ugly. I’ve seen elders literally cry in the pulpit when it comes to having to discipline some who were no longer walking with Jesus. But I’ve also seen it done in such a way that I felt the elder was happy to do that. Tone. Attitude. Atmosphere. Chemistry. Love. Knit together or pulling apart.
Each of us adds to this chemistry within a church. How we interact and how we allow ourselves to be knit to one another is the key. Behind all of this, of course, and always, is our faith and love in the Lord. The Jesus that went to the home of tax collectors, touched lepers and showed the world that He loved them, is how we learn to have our hearts knit to one another.
Chemistry—it’s more important the how pretty the church building is. It’s more important than the location of the church building. It’s more important that all the activities a church may do. It’s even more important that all the new people that are reached. Because without the right chemistry, people will soon leave.
Are you doing your part to help the chemistry in your congregation? Are you knit together with others? It’s something to think about…