This time of year harvest is on the mind of most in our community. Whether you farm or not, you are keyed in to the talk about frost damage, moisture content, field conditions or bushels per acre. It’s a time that is filled with all the emotions from anxiety to joy.
Throughout Scripture, the imagery of harvest is front and center. Many times it refers to the harvest of people coming to Christ, but it also refers to the harvest of fruit within our lives and in the church.
James, the half brother of Jesus, applies the picture of harvest in his book. He challenges us to apply God’s wisdom to our lives.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:17,18)
As we strive to be a healthy missional church (pursuing Christ and pursuing Christ’s priorities), we want to reflect all the attributes that James is listing for us. We desire to be pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, merciful, fruitful, impartial and sincere. It’s a list that all of us can grab on to and make real, as we work together in our community of faith. As we start up this fall, we are continuing to emphasize healthy communication while moving forward together in Christ.
When John Wenrich was here this summer, he challenged us to move past old resentments and hurts as we seek to be healthy and missional. When he traveled the United States as Director of Church Revitalization for the Covenant Church, he learned that churches are not held back by the culture of the community where the church is located, but rather by the culture inside the church. Unhealthy communication in churches can cause interpersonal hurt, mistrust, or resentment. Those hurts make it difficult for the Spirit of God to get the fire re-started.
With those challenging words and with a knowledge that God wants to make all things new, we are seeking to understand the health of our communication. We want to know how we are doing as the body of Christ. We want to do a better job of building the body of Christ into unity in Christ. Healthy communication can be a building block for that unity.
I’m excited about this direction and I would love to team up with you and make healthy communication a goal in each of our lives. In that excitement, I started to think about the times I have been a part of the problem. I thought of the instances that I have been frustrated with something someone did or a decision someone made, and didn’t handle it well. I talked to others about my frustration, but not to the one who was frustrating me. I needed to communicate in a healthier way. I also remembered the times when someone was complaining and I either agreed with them or just listened, without encouraging them to talk to the person directly involved and resolve it.
It is an important truth that disagreements are natural and normal in the church. There is a not so well-known scripture from Hezekiah 12:4 that says, “Where two or three are gathered, you have two or three different ideas.” (OK I made that up).
In fact, as a church we want ideas shared because we know that sharing new ideas will help make us more effective in God’s ministry.
Our church leaders are seeking God’s will for our church. They take every concern and idea seriously. Our leaders are directed to keep the needs of the whole congregation in view as decisions are made. They must even look beyond their own preferences to lead us in our mission.
Our Mission Statement reads as follows: Our mission is to glorify God by encouraging New Life, and Growth in Christ in the lives of the people we touch. This general Mission Statement is not specific on every point of discussion. We must, as the body of Christ, work together in love to reach our world for Christ and to grow in Him.
Please partner with me to make Community Covenant an even healthier church. If you have issues with a person, I encourage you to talk directly to the person who is involved.
If you don’t, that broken relationship can leave you deeply wounded. If you are concerned about an issue that needs to be addressed by one of our church boards, please write it down and give it to the that board. If someone else begins to share people or issue concerns, please encourage them to follow the same healthy guidelines.
As we improve our communication and harvest the healthgiving fruit that James speaks of-being pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, merciful, fruitful, impartial and sincere, we will see God at work in our lives and in our church.
I’m excited about what God is doing among us. New beginnings in lives and in ministry. The Sunday School and Youth ministry are off to a fantastic start. Children’s Church and Family Night start this week. Worship, with the Study of Ephesians is filling me with anticipation each week .
Let’s come together, the fruit is ready to be picked. There’s much to celebrate and be thankful for because It’s Harvest Time.