Pastor Franklin* was describing a recent and very frustrating conversation. Patty*, whom he and his wife met at the grocery store, was explaining her prolonged absence from church: “I know you think I need to be in church, pastor, but I worship God best when I’m all by myself. Last time I came to church, you told everyone how important it is to have private devotions. You said it pastor, and I’m doing what you said.” (*not their real names)

To another pastor one young man said, “My wife and I cherish our Sunday mornings; breakfast in bed and reading the paper. I think God is pleased that we’re getting some rest and spending time together!”

Individualism. Self-sufficiency. Arrogance. How can one possibly claim that “private time” replaces corporate worship and the fellowship defined as koinonia?

(Some would claim that these “slackers” aren’t really Christians to begin with. But in both cases the pastors shared convincing accounts of conversion experiences and were able to describe many other lifestyle changes as evidence of salvation at work.)

Following Jesus is not a private spiritual journey lived out independent of the fellowship of believers and the needs of others. A clear distinctive of the life of faith is that Jesus calls us into community with God and one another. No one truly comes to Christ only to be left alone.

The continuing work of redemption, sanctification, and reconciliation takes place in community. God’s presence is made real in Koinonia, through the proclamation of the Word; in worship; as we care for each other; and by serving one another in Christ’s name.

We are “members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Eph 2:19-22). Christ followers have a deep-seat longing, a yearning of the soul, to belong to the Household of Faith – what the apostle Paul describes as “the Body.”

Scripture, the writings of great men of Faith, and our own experience confirms a deep conviction that God reveals Himself in and through the “Body” as we gather for worship, encouragement, and serving one another. The early Christians knew that “the Most High does not live in houses made by men” (Acts 7:48).

The language used in the Old and New Testaments to describe the presence of God always underscores the community of God’s people. Practicing the presence of God is never a private, solitary experience. Personal devotion is not in isolation from the biblical community. It is no more possible to follow Christ apart from the church than it is to have a shower without getting wet.

How do we teach our people the priority of corporate worship? What can we do to lead them in an understanding that serving one another is a group activity? How are we modeling vibrant Koinonia – the Christ-led fellowship that goes beyond pot-luck dinners and picnics?

Share your responses and check back to join the dialog.

Perturbing Headlines


The headline stared back at me. “U.K. Church Leader: ‘Wives, Submit to Your Husbands.’” The article went on to describe the uproar caused when two church leaders actually encouraged women to practice Ephesians 5:22-24.

One woman churchgoer said she was ‘disgusted’ by the sermon, adding: ‘How can they talk that way in the 21st Century?’


The media love to focus on what they refer to as “archaic teachings” and it was no surprise that news organizations chose February 13 – the day before Valentine’s Day – to laugh at people who actually believe the Bible.

However, I find it extremely frustrating that many are seemingly oblivious to the verses that follow Paul’s admonition to wives! Maybe you’re like me and long for a headline like: “Local Pastor Tells Husbands to Die for Their Wives.” Or maybe this one: “Husbands Told to Love Wives As Much As They Love Themselves.”

With all the media attention verses 22-24 get, it would only be fair to shine a spotlight on Ephesians 5:25-33. Husbands all over the world would march in protest. I suppose the macho dudes would start tying nooses for anyone they caught suggesting “husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Can you imagine the parody’s and outrage on Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons?

Preparing for Easter

Dr. Scott Anderson, pastor of Grace Chapel Christian Union Church in Sante Fe, OH, is a very intentional preacher. Here he shares some valuable insight into how Spiritual Directors might help those under their care prepare their hearts and minds for Resurrection Sunday:

Preparing for Easter is most effective if pastors understand the value of preaching through the Life of Jesus beginning the first Sunday after Advent and carrying right through to Easter morning. The early church established this rhythm by observing such season markers as Advent, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. Some of these church year designations are not typically observed in the Christian Union, yet they offer an excellent, time tested approach for preparing for Easter Sunday.

The Child in a manger is destined for the Cross; a truth we easily miss in the sentimentality of Christmas and new Easter clothes. With some planning, pastors can cover targeted areas of Jesus’ life on the dozen or so Sundays after Christmas. This deliberate approach of preaching Jesus’ life prevents Easter from just popping up on the calendar resulting in a scramble to come up with an Easter message. Being deliberate with Easter planning helps prevent people from missing the context of the crucifixion and resurrection. When we see and understand the continuity of the events of Christ’s life, we are fostering a deeper, stronger faith – faith in Jesus who occupied the manger, the cross and the now empty tomb.

The significant theological teachings along the road from Bethlehem’s manger to Jerusalem’s cross are deep and wide. Beginning with the Advent Scripture readings we have the privilege of following Jesus from the announcement of His birth to the manger and through the miracles, parables, sermons, and, finally, the trial, crucifixion and burial. Talking and preaching through the stages and events of Christ’s life prepares hearts for the glory and power of the resurrection.

The weeks of deliberately preparing for Easter become a Faith building season for the saints. A key component of having stronger more resilient faith is to have a deeper understanding of Christ, whom we are trusting. One’s faith is no better than its object. If we do not know the one we trust and believing in, our faith will be stunted. Preaching through the life of Christ offers the Christian an opportunity to grow stronger and bolder which brings glory to God and extends His Kingdom in this world. May God grant you insight as you plan for this Easter season. Amen.