Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Church is bigger than Your Church...

I am a member of the Church of the Nazarene.  I have always been a part of this denomination and I joined the church in the 5th or 6th grade while my Dad was pastoring in Lexington, Kentucky.  I love my church.  I love being Nazarene.  I love that we are a part of something so much bigger than just my local church (currently in Anderson, IN).  We are a Family that extends all around the world.  But too often, I find that churches (not just Nazarene...any denomination) often focus so much on their own local church, that they miss out of a huge blessing, not just for themselves, but also for their church as a whole.

In our denomination, we are divided in to Zones (several churches in neighboring cities), then Districts (a section of a State or sometimes more than an entire State depending on the number of churches), then Regions (several States connected to one of our Universities).  There are activities within the local church, but also some specifically for the Zone, District, or Region.  This post is to remind you that it is important that you connect with your Zone, District and Region as well as globally when you can.

Too often, churches try to be autonomous and stay within their own walls, but that is a mistake in my opinion.  We are the BODY of Christ.  We are meant to work together...not each of us hole up in our own little churches.  Whether you are a church of 20 or a church of 1000, you should be connecting with your Zone, District, and Region.  It's important for the growth of your people and your growth as well.

Why is it important?  Because your people may not stay at your church forever.  And if you want them to truly connect with the Body of Christ, they need to know that the body extends beyond the walls of your church.

Young people connect at District camps, Retreats, Bible Quiz Meets and more, but then they reconnect at more local Zone activities.  When they go to a large event like our Nazarene Youth Conference they are able to connect even more with people around the country.  More importantly, they see God move in all those local, zone, district, and global events.  They realize that God is active in more than just their little circle.  And when the time comes for them to choose a college or university, it's amazing how many people they will already know because of the activities they had been involved in since childhood.

For adults, it's very easy to get stuck in our own little world.  We can get so focused on our own lives that we sometimes forget the world around us.  Being a part of activities outside our local church helps us shift that focus away from us and "our church" and place it more on the global church.  Worshiping with others at a Zone Singspiration or at a Zone revival reminds us that we are not alone.  Attending larger events like Family Camp (or Camp meeting), District Assembly or a Sunday School Spirit Rally reminds us that we are a part of Body that is working all over our District.  And attending a global event like General Assembly allows us to see how God is moving literally all over the world.  It's hard to be of narrow focus when you see how big the work of God is. 

We are a Family in the Church of the Nazarene, but just like any family, there are sometimes members who prefer to not attend the family events.  Not because they have a conflict, but simply because they don't want to.  How sad.  It's hard to stay connected to family members that you never see.  My biggest support system (outside my family) comes from my extended church Family.  They are such a blessing to me. 

Some of you reading this, might also be Nazarene, but you might be Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, Church of God, Non-Denominational, or some other denomination.  Whatever your denomination, I still think this post applies to you.  Are you connecting with your Family?  Or are you trying to stay within the walls of your own church?  We are the Body of Christ, but the Body is strongest when all it's parts are connected.  If you want to strengthen your ministry, one great way to do that is to strengthen your bond to your denominational family.  And then, make sure you connect with your brothers and sisters in the other denominations around you.  We are all a part of the Body of Christ and we all have much to learn and share with each other.

That's all for this week.

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