Sunday, October 24, 2010

Touching Base! Part 103

Planting Your Flag
(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

“Planting your flag” is an expression I heard years ago referring to the idea of commitment. When we plant our flag, we identify what it is we are committing to, we make the commitment and then, through good times and bad, for richer or poorer, we commit, stick to it and work it out. That kind of commitment is often lacking in many areas of society these days. Marriages are often the first example given, but it can also be seen in the local church. This TB is designed to help you think about the various groups of people who plant their flag at Bethel.

The Old timers (not only in age but in time at Bethel)
These are the people that can reference events in the church that happened 20, 30 and even 50 years ago. They have a deep-rooted history with the church. They have a panoramic view as they can see how the church has dipped and soared, thrived and dived. They can tell you about people who died long ago, and the role they played in the church. They can tell you when so-and-so was just 5 years old and now they are a grown adult, married with children. Many in this group can provide a long list of the ways they have served in the local church. In many ways, these are the people who help connect a church with its past as it moves into the future. Personally, I have found these kinds of people at Bethel extremely encouraging, providing lots of good insights and willing to transition into the future. I always find it interesting to hear their stories of how God worked so many years ago. This group needs to be listened to and included in ministry. Their service years are not over even if they may be in their senior years.

The “We are not new but not pioneer” group
You may find yourself in this group. You have some history but not pages and pages like the above group. However, like the above group, it is hard to remember what it feels like to be a newcomer. This is the group that in many cases has taken on the bulk of the ministries. They have developed a real ownership of the church and an interest in its development. This group can appreciate the changes that have occurred, and understand some of the tensions that come with moving ahead. Many of these people are great at helping the church transition while respecting some of the long-held traditions in a church.

The new arrivals
These are the folks who, possibly within the last 12-24 months, have started attending. There can be a whole host of feelings accompanied with new arrivals:
  • A sense of loss as they really miss their home church back in the town they left
  • “Woundedness” that might have resulted from a bad exit from a previous church
  • Feeling like an outsider as they try to find their place in this new church
  • Uncertainty about how things work, where things are, why things happen the way they do
  • Anticipation at the prospects of their new church home

One of the most exciting things we observe is when new people jump on board. They have a passion for the city, a love for the church and a desire to participate in God’s kingdom. Many of these people don’t “ride the pines” but get right in the game, either in the church scattered or gathered. Don’t forget your workplace is one of your primary areas of ministry. We count it a privilege to encourage you and learn with you in that area of ministry.

Church hoppers
These are people that can drive any church crazy - no commitment, no loyalty, and no involvement. Like a tourist, they show up for a while, observe and then move on to the better “show” in town. No doubt, they have a distorted understanding of the church and a very “consumeristic” outlook. These are not the people that help you win the game. We need to help these folks find their way through this season. There can be a number of factors that prevent people from settling down in a local church. We need to encourage them to put down roots in a local church, whether it is at Bethel or elsewhere.

In this day and age where loyalty to anything is becoming increasing rare, I am grateful for the first three above-mentioned groups. It is exciting to see how God is weaving together the new with those who have been around for a while at Bethel. We are all at different stages and phases of being, and we all have unique ways we contribute (gathered and scattered). It is my prayer that God will continue to bring us together in unity as we come under His headship.

Exit Folks
Let me close with mentioning one last group. This isn’t a group that actually attend Bethel, since by very definition that would be impossible. These are the “Exit folks”. These are people that, for whatever reason, have left Bethel. This has always happened and will always happen. Sometimes there are very legitimate reasons why people leave – they move, they graduate, or they struggle with various issues. We need to be extremely sensitive to this group, praying for them and responding to God’s promptings should He lead us to follow them up.


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