This month, the authors of Theology Along the Way are focusing their content on “Leadership and Time Management.” I cannot speak entirely to the subject, seeing as how I am not a leader or pastor. And although time management is of interest to me and my personality, it will not be my topic of discussion today.
But I would like us to ask ourselves how we are using our time. Specifically, how much face-to-face time do you put into your church family and your ministry?
Typically, I am a reserved homebody. I love seeing my church family throughout the week, but I am most comfortable communicating via written messages sent from across the way. This has burdened me, especially knowing I do love my church family, and I do want to invest in them individually. Yet, it is such a task for me; when I honestly try to do it well, I can hardly know if I am succeeding or failing.
However, after the sermon at our church a couple weeks ago, I realized what part of my problem was. No, the problem was not my reserved personality. The problem was that I needed practical guidance in engaging face-to-face with my church family.
In his sermon, our pastor, Philip Bramsen, preached on the topic of face-to-face community from 2 John 12:
“Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”
Although there was much more to the sermon, here are a few of Bramsen’s practical guidelines for face-to-face time:
- Be purposeful:
- Show up, and do it with purpose. Come to your church’s gatherings determined to interact and serve; do not “serve” as a pew decoration.
- Do this in part by conversing with purpose.
- To speak with purpose, plan ahead what you will speak about with particular individuals.
- Also, pray for and think about others, so that you can speak with purpose. Something helpful here is to speak with your spouse about individuals in the church. This will help you remember what needs attention in a person’s life and what questions you can ask him or her the next time you meet.
- Ask good questions
- Examples: “Where are you from?” “What got you here?” “How do you spend your time?” “Who do you hope to share the Gospel with?” “What has God’s Word taught you most recently?” “What burdens are you bearing?” “How can I pray for you?” “What has caused you joy or excitement this week?”
- Face-to-face training wheels. If this is a particularly new or difficult arena for you, try on these training wheels:
- Plan to meet regularly with an individual, and when you meet, plan to read, study, and respond to God’s Word together, and to pray together. This will kick-start conversations about Scripture and its application to each of your lives specifically. And when you have that experience together, it will become easier to engage in meaningful and deeper conversations, even outside your Bible study time.
No one has to put aside their personality to follow these guidelines. Personalities and weaknesses do not excuse a failure to love your brothers and sisters in Christ face-to-face. Yes, I will still use my phone to send texts to follow up with people when I don’t have the opportunity to see them. But,
“[L]et us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25, emphasis added