Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chrissy and I just celebrated our 8th anniversary last Tuesday, which was fun. I got to surprise her for an overnight excursion to Asheville. We spent some quality time together, which is a premium when you have 2 preschoolers who take up most of the conversation time in your life! On the way back from Asheville we both agreed that we talked more in that 24 hour excursion than we had in the previous month. You know, marriage is one of those great gifts God gave us to both encourage us and to make life interesting. Marriage is like most things, it’s what you make of it. You have to invest time and energy for it to work. Great marriages don’t just spontaneously mature and grow. In fact, if left unattended, married couples tend to drift apart and lose their connection. The reality is that we all want connection. We all want to be loved and to love others. But life happens, distractions take over, and before you know it two people who passionately cared for each other realize they’ve become strangers over time. The cure for this relationship killer is intentionality. Couples have to make time to be together or it just won’t happen. We can get so busy in the day-to-day activity of our lives that we just assume that intimacy will remain.

And slowly we drift…

Quite frankly, my fear is that our church relationships can suffer from a lack of intentionality as well. We get busy with the day-to-day activity of life, whether it be work, or family, or recreation. And before you know it, people at church seem distant. Church just becomes something you do on Sundays. People are friendly to you and you are friendly to people at church, but it’s mostly just an exchange of pleasantries a few minutes before or after service once each week. The Christian life can and should be more than that. It is supposed to be lived out in the context of a community.

Community at most churches is found in small group ministries of various kinds: Sunday School, Bible Study Fellowhip, Home Groups, etc. The reality at Good Hope is most adults who attend our church are not involved in Bible Study Fellowship, our version of Sunday School. Another reality is that if we wanted everyone to be in a Sunday School class we wouldn’t have a place to put them because we are limited in our classroom space! So my conclusion is the best, most reasonable way for us to stay connected at Good Hope is through Home Groups.

As a pastor, I desperately want my people to feel connected and cared for at Good Hope. In my heart of hearts, I know that involvement in a vibrant Home Group will greatly increase the chances of this happening. We have been taking attendance at Home Groups over the past few months at Good Hope. We have come to realize that half of our families are currently not engaged in a home group. I worry about these families. In fact, when I hear that a family is drifting from our church I can almost guarantee that they are not connected to a home group. I worry for these disconnected families much like I would worry for a couple who are not intentionally taking time for each other. We all need intimacy. It’s my heart’s desire that all Good Hopers be connected to other people in the church so we don’t drift and lose our connection with each other, and eventually with Jesus. If you are a Good Hoper and are currently not in a home group I want you to consider the reasons you are choosing to not be in one.

Has it been a matter of family schedule, or of comfortability, or of convenience? Maybe you’ve been disappointed before. Maybe the last one you were in didn’t go so well. Maybe you’ve just not felt comfortable being with people in that kind of setting. Maybe you’ve just not seen the need for it. I am challenging all of us to be more intentional about building community and connecting to each other. Invite another family over for dinner. Check out a home group when we get restarted this September. Let's not take our connectedness for granted. We need each other now more than ever.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Introducing Baby Duncan #3

I experienced a humble moment today as I stared at the ultrasound screen, transfixed upon the 8 week old baby growing in Chrissy's womb at the OBGYN's office today. It confounds me to think that we created this little being. I mean, really, God does the work, we just get to have a small hand in it! We'll know whether or not this little wonder is a boy (who'll have to be named Slam Duncan) or another gorgeous Duncan girl in about 20 more weeks...but who is counting!?! This little 1.6 centimeter long wonder has a heartbeat and measurable brain function. Amazing! I sat there in awe as we watched his/her little heart beat. Just 2 months ago this little one was just a gleam in my eye! People may argue that life begins at birth and not conception, but I sure know it's at least at 8 weeks! "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well"(Psalm 139:14)