BLOG––Encouraged by Faith

The Social Side of Church

Posted by Crystal Hammon on

 

The church is not a social club.” Through the years, this maxim has made its way into church teaching as if it originated with scripture.

It’s a well-intended phrase, meant to remind Christians that our gatherings aren’t about us or even about solving the world’s social problems. Instead, we gather to worship God and to transform ourselves as people who can keep company with God forever.

Does our spiritual focus mean Christians should be ashamed to admit that we enjoy each other? Is it wrong to think of our church family as an oasis where we find the best personal qualities in play—from kindness and thoughtfulness to humility and honesty?

I think not, and here’s why: To be a Christian is to be part of a family. And families are, by nature, social. 

Of course the Lord’s church is spiritual. But it is also inherently social, as anyone can see by observing what Christians do on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night before or after services. Not unlike first century Christians, we form deep friendships that make it a pleasure to socialize with each other at church and beyond. 

If we believe God wants us to live in community, then polishing our social skills is important. Refining our social skills can be hard work—harder for some than others—but it’s worth the effort because it can do so much to expand God’s kingdom. Our social graces can help us welcome new people, avoid cliques that make others feel excluded and reach across the boundaries of age, gender, race, ethnicity, marital status and economic differences to connect with each other. 

Here are a few extra ways you can use your social skills to improve the body of Christ:

Become a better servant. In every other pursuit in life, we know that finding and running with a high-performance herd helps us aim higher and reach goals. Why would that not be true for becoming a productive member of God’s family? The church is, to a certain extent, a social construct for acquiring Christ’s traits. 

Working together, listening to each other, sharing and discussing God’s word equips us to do a portion of the work he once did. Spending time together—whether it occurs at church or outside the walls of a church building—unites our family and helps us acquire traits that make our service to God more effective.

Avoid loneliness. We live in a country where 54 percent of the population is lonely. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t experience loneliness, depression or isolation. Nevertheless, as a member of God’s family, we should have a feeling of belonging that offers some protection against all three.

It’s true that the church isn’t designed specifically to provide social interaction or recreation, but individual Christians are repeatedly asked to share what we have and to do good works through social interaction. Even in our social life, God knows what’s best for us, and he makes that known to us through scripture. 

Beginning with Adam and Eve, God reveals that he doesn’t want us to be lonely. In Galatians 6: 9-10, we’re told to do good for all people, especially those who are members of God’s family. Ephesians 4:28 tells us to work so that we’ll have something to share with anyone in need. Your social life can help you fulfill that obligation by keeping you in regular contact with Christians and others in need.

Gain a Godly lens for solving life’s problems. For some reason, we tend to operate out of an irrational belief that being a Christian entitles us to an elite set of problems. If our problems look the same as those who lack faith, we consider ourselves defective.

Despite evidence to the contrary, we act as if we’re the only Christians who have tasted life’s bitter parts. We hide our lives from other Christians who look more “put together.” 

Here’s the truth of the matter: You’re not the only Christian who ever lost a job, a girlfriend or a spouse. The only one who had an impossible child or a spouse who mistreated you. The only one who bungled your household finances or couldn’t figure out how to move forward in a stalling career. The only one who came from a dysfunctional family or felt the indignity of being cast aside at work because you were too old or too young. The only one who felt misunderstood, underestimated or socially awkward. The only one who said something stupid, inappropriate or hurtful—and hated yourself for it. The only one who drank, smoked or otherwise abused your body. The only one who asked, “Who am I to set this goal?” 

Do you think your problems are unique to you? If so, then you’re probably inclined to hide them from other Christians, denying God an opportunity to work in your life.

Christian friends are often God’s way of transforming our shame into growth.

When you strengthen social bonds with members of the church, it’s pretty easy to see that you aren’t special at all. Making yourself vulnerable and confessing your problems opens a range of possible solutions drawn from Christians who wrestle the same problems—and work to resolve all problems in accordance with God’s wisdom. Work diligently to form strong social bonds with other Christians and you will tap the human capital God provides to keep you strong and ready to do his work.  

I love all my friends and family, but I would be lost without those acquired through the Lord’s church. They’re my wealth, my health and my spiritual guides—the people who make me laugh, help me improve in faith and character, and keep me sane and happy. They listen to me. I listen to them. It works.

If you want to do a better job of integrating your faith into your life, join one of North Central’s small groups. For more information, contact Matt and Kelly Dean at

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Comments

to leave comment

 

© 2019 North Central Church of Christ   |   9015 Westfield Blvd. Indianapolis, IN 46240