The church I would build: a freindly church

Real quotes from real people:

"I am secure in the love of my Father, but I’ve been unsure about the family of God. My relationships in every single church I have ever been a part of have been based on ministry performance.
My phone rang off the hook when I was in the swirl at our former large church. But once I pulled the plug and pulled back, the little red light on my answering machine stopped blinking. What happened? People I thought I had a caring friendship with were suddenly no longer all that interested in me.
But how could they be? Our only context for relating was in church and in church related busyness. They loved me when we were in the building together. Sundays were awesome. For ninety minutes. But then, when the doors were closed and it seemed like I was usually one of the last ones to leave, I’d head home and for the next six days my life was disconnected. The phone quiet. Messages unreturned. Emails ignored."

"I go to church in search of my relationship with God. I don’t care if ever talk to anyone there. I go to talk to God and I don’t care if anyone talks to us. Yes it is nice to be greeted but I do not expect a relationship with them inside or outside of the church. I cry every time I go to church and no one ever asks me if I’m okay and if they did I would say “yes I am fine”. I would not discuss my feelings with them. I cry because it feels good and God is moving me and trying the help me heal my pain. My fellow church family can not do that for me no matter what they do or how they try to. My expectations of them are non existing. I don’t crave it I don’t need it. What I need are the people in my life that I have always needed the ones who make the effort to be a part of my life. I am not lonely when I go to church because I don’t seek comfort from the people but from God and if he is present in my life I will not be lonely."

"I would rather be around a bunch of losers on the street than in an environment where people are seemingly unwilling to be sort of real. It’s not that I expect too much; it’s that there’s too many bloody masks and I can’t be bothered with it all.
Take all those same people outside of the building and meet with them on a Thursday and it’d probably be fine."
"What I’ve learned is you can’t force friendships, just because you go to the same church, with people you wouldn’t be friends with otherwise. Yes, the expectations we have to that end are unreasonable. But then, what are the options? What is the value of this so-called community if there is no real community? Why go and sit with a bunch of “good acquaintances” once a week when I could have a coffee date with someone I have a deep, caring friendship with?"

Most churches where many are gathering can be lonesome places.

The theater or classroom layout of church gatherings creates a lonely atmosphere, unless it is a unconventional style of theater or learning environment.

Theater in the round causes the audience, the watchers, so see the audience. When you see other people's faces, it fosters community, belonging and warmth. Go a step further and involve the audience without embarrassing individuals.

An interactive classroom fosters community, learning and becoming known at the same time.

Impartation of knowledge through lecture must be combined with interaction from learners in a fail safe atmosphere.

Growing in the attributes of love, grace, and mercy are just as important as growing in wisdom, knowledge, and righteousness.

Friendliness is fostered through community.

Communion needs to come to the center of church again. Communion needs to be rediscovered as a meal shared that is symbolic of a life given and shared by Christ and reflected in his church sharing their lives together.

When this kind of church has a time of teaching, it will be a very warm. Like a family gathering in a living room.

Signs, signals, and tokens: coincidence and synchro-convergence

Sorry for the long title.

Twenty years ago, I heard a prominent prophetic minister say that all believers need to be receiving signs, signals and tokens. He was confirming what I intuitively already believed. I do believe that God and His angels can do things in our natural realm to guide us, protect us, or to confirm things. However, I do not believe all things or even all coincidences are signs from God. My overarching belief about these things is that I do not follow signs. I might see signs and ponder them or consider if God is behind the coincidence.
Signs are confirmations. Spiritual signs are like signs on the road. They are neither the road nor the destination. But signs are a good thing.

Jesus had stern words for religious people who demanded a sign from him and ignored those who taunted him for signs when he was being crucified. However, Gideon was permitted to ask for a sign (Judges 6:17. Zechariah was rebuked for asking for more of a sign when God had already given him one (Luke 1:18).

So, there is nothing wrong with asking for a sign, but we must be careful and I would say, exercise faith in humility when doing so.

Brothers and Sisters and Friends (Oh my)

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Friends love through all kinds of weather,
and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.
A friend is always loyal,
and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 17:17 KJV, MSG, NLT

I talked to a couple friends and my brother yesterday. I love both my friends and my brother and my friends are like brothers. But what's the difference or is there one? The word here makes the observation that while a good friend loves you through thick and thin, your brother or sister is there at your worst times. It doesn't mean that your friend is not there when you are in trouble, but that your sibling is there. Another way of saying it is that God gives you friends or sends you as a friend to give unconditional love and support to another person, but God gives siblings to be there no matter what.

Advice if you feel trapped in dullsville

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 MSG, NLT

The new year has begun, but how do you cope with that fact that you are still standing in the old? Whatever our personal circumstances are, if we are Christ-followers, these verses apply to us. The exact word that I'm considering is to, "give thanks on all occasions". We don't give thanks for everything that happens, but we give thanks to God no matter what happens and no matter where we're at. It's an attitude adjustment or an alignment. Wherever I'm at, I will align myself with the fact that God is good; and thankfulness does that or expresses that. I am thankful (to God) no matter what.