by Steve Zimmerman
Growing up out West in Oklahoma you cannot help but be influenced by some of the culture. To this day I still get homesick when the sun sets in the evening and not be able to see the whole glory of the heavens in their splendor like that on the Great Plains. There is something in my DNA that will always be a Sooner!
One irony of the West are cowboys. They have been trained to herd cattle. Sometimes they are asked to get a cow away from the group for branding or other purposes. But most of their riding is comprised of getting all the cattle into one group. They see the need to keep the herd together for their safety and wellbeing. However, once the day is done many find themselves alone and could benefit from a group.
After serving churches for quite some time, many of the ministers I have worked with are much like these cowboys. They are so determined to herd the church flock and still miss out on the group support they need. In the same sense of independence as a cowboy, they pride themselves in maintaining a good church but deep down they yearn for more than the local church setting. This mentality carries over into the thinking of church members as well.
One way to cure this isolation is to remember the writer of Hebrews when he said, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another….” Hebrews 10:24-25.
For as long as I can remember this text has been used for a church setting. Somehow though I think that these verses can mean more than getting your local church members together.
Last year about this time a group of ministers in Southside Virginia who many were not well acquainted with each other were asked by us to see if we could find ways to meet their church’s need(s) through a training event. Through some planning meetings and conversations, they launched ReShape, a one day training event this Spring. The results were astonishing!
- Pastors of established churches were introduced to new pastors in the area and friendships have been established beyond this one day event.
- Church leaders from these eleven churches were blessed to have someone other than their own pastor giving them encouragement and support. What they heard was a confirmation of what the pastor had already shared in their local context.
- The bonds of fellowship with other churches was truly evident. Through the whole day a sense of divine koinonia was present.
- From that experience these ministers are now in the process of doing something similar again for Spring 2020 with even more energy.
Maybe it is time to rethink how you do church. There is truly something to be said about going beyond your own herd. Find ways to engage beyond the Easter and Thanksgiving seasons with other churches and their ministers in your area. If you are having difficulty doing that, contact us. You might truly be surprised of the “love and good deeds” results that might could from your roundup!