Podcast #5 – What is the purpose of church? How can it be meaningful for my family? Is a podcast you will WANT to check out, AND download! This is a great reminder and encourager to ALL of us!!!
Can’t listen now? No worries! Always come back to Raisingrices.com/podcast or feel free to read along below (a great reference for you!)
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HEY Friends! Thank you for popping over, if you joined us last week you heard about our daily commitments for this year. If you didn’t get a chance, check it out, it helps hold us accountable to the purposeful vision that God has given us this year, and might inspire you to think of what purposeful changes would be good for your family this year.
BUT today we have an exciting new line up for the next several podcast you WILL NOT want to miss out on. Because the next several podcast we have an awesome line up of Guest speakers. Start today with someone who I admire greatly, my mother in love Kathy Rice.
Kathy: Thank you, Marissa, and thank you for inviting me!
Well, it is so fitting to have you on with us today on the RaisingRices podcast because you yourself have RaisedRices and once a mom always a mom still providing guidance to us Rices and to others. So thank you again for being on with us today. And since you are such a great resource and a wealth of knowledge and will be back with us on future podcasts lets take a few moments to allow everyone else to get to know a little about you. So let start by having you tell us a 4 things that everyone should know about you:
Kathy: 1) I love God and his word, and his church.
2) I love family life…..everything about it. Over the years God truly developed in me a heart that is centered in the family. I enjoy it all! Noise, messes, all that family life brings. I love the oldest and the youngest and everything in between, even the supposedly “dreaded” stages of 2 year olds, and teenagers.
3) I love the outdoors. Gardening, hiking, anything that will take me outdoors, though I am a bit of a softy in that I prefer sunshine or at least mild temperatures
4) I love food. It is possible that too much of my life may revolve around food. But in my world food is a form of love speak. God speaks his love to me through food, and I speak my love to others through food.
Those are all great and such a beautiful description of what I see in you too 🙂 thanks again for coming on today and speaking wisdom and truth to us.
Today I have asked Kathy to come on and to speak to a topic that has been stirring in my mind lately. And I believe as we dive into this topic that it can apply to all ages and situations. And that is the topic of CHURCH. We are going to look at the biblical purpose for church, and how we can prepare our families to dive into and be part of a community of believers and also looking at how to do and be church with our kids.
Kathy: The church is God’s instrument for expression of his love. Through the divine direction of the Holy Spirit the structure of the church serves to preserve the integrity of the gospel message so it is not compromised or lost. As part of that the church serves for teaching and equipping believers, and therefore keeping God’s people set apart for his purposes. It is one of the means through which God desires to reveal himself to the world, and bring salt and light into the world.
We are given a picture of how that looks in Acts 2:42 that gives us 4 elements of church life “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”
So church is a purposeful community with Jesus at the center. It is a place where the Bible is taught and life is structured around God’s purposes and God’s glory.
In that setting we are given the blessed opportunity to observe, practice and live out his grace, mercy, forgiveness and love, in essence, to put into practice the gospel so that Jesus can be seen and experienced. Now that is not always pretty, and it is not always easy, sometimes it is downright hard. But church is the place where God operates on the sick (that is all of us) and does the work of transforming us into his likeness, and therefore, his representatives to a hurting world. So when we submit to that and persist in our (stick to it, endure, there is a better word that is not coming to me right now) commitment to our church we are participating in God’s plan for humanity.
Marissa: I love that you brought up that church is not all pretty, and put together because it’s purpose is to be transforming us to be like Christ aka not there yet, always on a journey. Can you speak to this a little more, and how we can prepare our mind and hearts for this reality as well as our families.
I read a great book recently called “The Compelling Community” by Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop. They talk about how groups and communities can be formed around all kinds of things, a common cause, a common interest, a common need. Those kinds of groups exist in plenty in our society, and exist without the presence or power of God. They are built around commonality. But the church brings together people of all walks of life and all kinds of interests and all kinds of personalities, and makes us into a miraculous community that is held together and sustained by God’s spirit IN SPITE of our differences. thay community is glorious because of our differences. That is what makes the church stand out, and puts God’s amazing love and power on display. When we can love and live in relationship with people who are nothing like us.
I think that understanding is the heart of a good relationship to the church, when we embrace the fact all of us are different, coming from all kinds of different life circumstances, we will never be all the same. In addition to that we are all broken or sick in some way, and we are in the process of being healed and made new. we are still learning and growing, and being transformed to become more in the image of Christ. including the pastor and the leaders. And as such, we will all make mistakes, and blow it sometimes. We will inevitably offend or hurt someone, will inevitably be offended or hurt by others. There will be moments when we disagree, and moments when our differences seem too great to overcome. BUT, we have the gospel, and the spirit of God living in us. So hurts, offenses and disagreements are not game enders. They are opportunities for the gospel to be lived out, for us breathe grace, practice forgiveness, grow together, and learn to love as Jesus taught us.
So as far as how that plays out for us in our daily life and our family, I believe it is so important for each of us to get our head and heart straight first. To set aside self interest, and opinions of what is “wrong” with our churches or pastors or leaders. Recognize and lay down expectations that often lead to disappointment and frustration. Ask God to give you a true love for our Pastors, and leaders and the people of the church. Ask God to give us a true passion for HIS sacred church. Ask God to show us the moments of truth, and grace, and reconciliation, sacrifice and love that occur with our church and enter into them. Ask God to show us opportunities to love people, speak loving truth into their lives and to be a part of the expression of the life giving gospel.
I say all of that to say, if we want our children to grow up and desire to follow after God, and participate in church, they have to see it being something desirable. They have to see it being something that is TRUE and REAL, not a show of words and practices that have no effect on our real life, or do not reflect God’s love. If we do not learn to practice gospel principles in our home, why would they want to serve God? If we grumble and complain about church, trash talk the pastor, criticize every activity, or speak uncharitably about the people of the church, why would our children want to be a part of a church when they grow up?
As we mentioned earlier, we are not going to be pretty and perfect. Not in our homes or in the church, but real Christian life is manifested in how we handle those rough moments. God does not expect us to be perfect, he does not expect that we can do any of this on our own. That is why Jesus was sacrificed for us. So we can experience relationship with him and then model that relationship to others. So when someone messes up at home, or when our kids see a messy situation at church, and people are upset and hurt or trying to resolve differences, we need to work HARD at making sure that what our children see is the gospel, the power of God in action, played out in selflessness, humility, grace, forgiveness, intentional relationship, growth in Godly character. That is what God wants for us, and for our families and for the church.
Marissa: yes, I love that! I love that we are showing our kids what REAL (not picture perfect, not wanna be life looks like but R.E.A.L. Life looks like!) And how to approach those messy times with Gods grace and wisdom. I also love the part about expectations and spending time in prayer for our leaders and pastors. In fact on raisingrices.com 3 minute daily prayers, in the month of May we are taking a focus to pray for leaders and pastors. I would encourage you all to jump on raisingrice.com subscribe and participate, prayer is powerful and a necessary part of our personal walk and our families.
Kathy the last section of being the Church I would love to hear your heart on is advice on looking at how to do and be church with our kids?
Kathy: Yes, Thank you for your 3 minute prayers. I follow them, and love those focused reminders of scriptural things to be praying each day.
We raised our children in a very family oriented church. I knew I was blessed, but I think I did not realize the full extent of that blessing until I visited a church while we were on vacation recently, and I did not see a single child. I am sure they were being well taken care of in another room somewhere, by people who loved and valued them. But it showed me the contrast of the environment that we have at our church, where babies and children and teenagers are seen and heard at different times during any given service. Before and after the service they are seen interacting not only with one another but with the adults. I love that, it is life!
As a society, we tend to underestimate our children’s ability to understand what is being said, their ability to control themselves, their ability to speak or help. We don’t understand their potential impact upon the life of the church. We underestimate their need to be recognized as valuable. When we do any of those things, we do a disservice to our children.
So in addition to making sure that our children are observing our love and participation in church life,
I believe that it is valuable to have our children be involved both in relationship and ministry with all ages of people, mingled into church life at every opportunity, throughout their childhood.
Let them see and experience and participate in as much of your church life as possible. There will be times when that is not appropriate because of content, or length of activity, and there will be times that it is hard work on the parents to have them along. It sometimes requires concerted effort in training so that they can be a part of something and not be a distraction and eventually contribute. But, hey, lots of parenting is hard work, right? The fruit that it will bear someday is such a blessing! In doing this our children get to see you modeling church life. They get to see others of God’s people in action, and maybe develop a relationship with someone they look up to, who may be a mentor to them someday. They learn skills of service, how to focus on others. They learn to help, they receive appreciation for their effort. It draws them into church life and helps to build connections that last a lifetime.
The church body can help families by making it a point to recognize, and interact with children of all ages. Welcome them with smiles. Be tolerant while they learn, and treat them as if they have something valuable to contribute, not as if they are in the way of “important” stuff that does not involve them. They are our future pastors, evangelists, prophets, teachers, missionaries. They are salt and light in our world. Yes, They are the future church, but they are not just those things “someday” They are those things now, just in seedling form. So we must value and treat them as such.
Marissa: wow, yes and amen! What you have said is inspiring and empowering for us Parents. Thank you so much for your power words of wisdom!!! We are raising the future! Kathy if I could ask before he head out today, would you bless us all by praying for us all?
Kathy: Absolutely, I would be honored.
Father God, thank you for the institutions of family and church that you have created, both of which are to be a reflection of you. I pray that we will honor them both, and bring you honor in both settings.
Father please help families on their journey to living their daily lives in the message and power of the gospel, practicing selflessness, grace, love, forgiveness by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Please give parents strength and courage and wisdom as they direct their families in these things.
Please encourage and strengthen families as they commit to participating in church life, and bless them with many blessings as they follow after you.
Father please help us all to engage in and love your church, the institution itself, as well as the people who make it up. Let us love and support families within it. Let us, the church, be light and life to anyone who observes or participates so that you are on display in our communities.
We thank you for your goodness and your faithfulness, in the name of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.