Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

March 2020

I sat with a towel twisting my wet hair up on our bed, back in our master, while our worship pastor, our children's director and my husband sat no more than 10 yards away and I listened to their honest, pure, worship. Tears began to fill behind my eyes and threatened to stream down my face. The words that rang throughout my house were, "You are making all things new..." And yet, as I sat in bed with a fever and a desperation to heal quicker, I knew and loved that my church was still being a church.

In the Confusion

This time with the craziness of Covid-19 has been a whirlwind or as some have referred to as being like the movie, Groundhog's Day... over and over. Social media has gone RIDICULOUS with people now having free time to spout off their thoughts and ideas about the situation (I've seen an immense amount of good come out of our situations) but this morning... I could just be... and listen... and softly sing to my King while no one watched. Honestly, I could barely get the words out. Here's the conclusion I've come to amidst all of this chaos and disorder:

  • I've found peace where once my heart was jumbled and stressed.
  • I've been able to breathe, really breathe in, and experience pure joy with my kids daily.
  • I've been able to dig into Scripture and geek out to the possibilities I find there.
  • I've been able to worship with no one watching.
  • I've been able to spend time reaching out to my church family more regularly to ask for or pray for them.
  • I've watched my kids settle in and just be... without the crazy amount of time constraints they used to have.
  • I've been able to see all of my church family's faces via Zoom and laugh with them.
  • I've watched our church family come together in a tighter knit community to support and love on each other even virtually.

Chaos and the Church

It's not the same... we can't meet together collectively. It's not normal... we aren't allowed to worship together in the same room anymore. It's not even similar... we are spending church virtually instead of spending next to flesh and blood. But here's the thing... we are meeting separately... but we are together in spirit.

We've got to let go our our stubbornness... our resentment for how things were handled... our need to want things our way... and move into a time of healing, rest, and thankfulness that we live in a time and age where we can still meet- even if virtually.

I think back to one of the first Sunday's after Jesus' death. We find the disciples and Jesus's followers spread out all over the city of Jerusalem... hiding. Some followers had even left the city and were headed home to Emmaus. But when Jesus finally appears to them in Luke 24, they think he's a ghost. They can't even believe he's back!

The Kingdom they thought was coming... didn't.

The life they thought Jesus had alluded to- was completely upside down.

I mean- the guy they'd been following around had been preaching of a new Kingdom... and then, whelp, he was killed. And now, they were huddled in a house, just waiting for something and thinking that there was no way this Kingdom was going to happen anymore.

"Then he said to them, “Don’t you remember the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you? I told you that everything written about me would be fulfilled, including all the prophecies from the law of Moses through the Psalms and the writings of the prophets—that they would all find their fulfillment.”  He supernaturally unlocked their understanding to receive the revelation of the Scriptures,  then said to them, “Everything that has happened fulfills what was prophesied of me. Christ, the Messiah, was destined to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.  Now you must go into all the nations and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins so that they will turn to me. Start right here in Jerusalem.  For you are my witnesses and have seen for yourselves all that has transpired. And I will send the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to you. So stay here in the city until the mighty power of heaven falls upon you and wraps around you.”

Here's what's crazy about us humans: we think we're soooo smart. The disciples thought it was all over when their Savior was killed (and who's to say we wouldn't have thought the same?) They thought the Kingdom that Jesus preached, would never rise up. And yet, it did.

The Kingdom is happening around us. I'm seeing it in the faces of people who are selflessly dropping off food on our porch so that my husband doesn't have to scramble to make dinner for all of us after taking care of us all day. I hear it in the voices worshipping from my living room. I receive it from the texts and social media messages that encourage and build me up with promises of prayer and healing. I read about it through the words of my King in scripture. I feel the Kingdom when I pray while weeping when no one is watching. It is all around us. God is with us.. even when we feel like church isn't normal. The Kingdom is here... do you feel it?

The Crazy in Church Planting

10 Years Ago...

  • We felt God tugging on our hearts in regard to church planting
  • Attended a Weekend Church Planting Q&A through Ozark Christian College

8 Years Later...

  • We felt God leading us to plant a church in a city where my husband worked
  • Realized- we would eventually have to leave our recent “home” church in order to plant God’s leading only 25 minutes away
  • Had a family uproot themselves from out of state and move into the area to help us plant
  • Got pregnant (whoops… there goes smart planning…)
  • Dreamed about where to plant, prayed about where to plant, talked about where to plant…
  • Began meeting with our team (at the time it was a total of 7 adults…)
  • Had TONS of prayer teams all over the country begin to pray for our team
  • Joined Nexus Church PlantingMichael began to be coached by an experienced church planter
  • Had our 3rd baby boy (people were not joking when they warned us that going from 2 to 3 was “a whole ‘nother ball game!")
  • I began battling post-partum depression (1st time ever… our crazy life definitely wasn't to blame… ha!)
  • Attended a weeklong assessment process with Nexus (making sure we were actually adequately prepared to plant a church.)
  • Had our first Outreach Event… and the only people that attended were… OUR TEAM. (We were literally giving hotdogs away to people that walked by our Pavilion at the park… sad.)
  • Had another Outreach that was more promising… I think there were 13 people there that were not comprised of our team??
  • Lost part of a salary that we had “in place” for our first hire due to a change in support from a church
  • Was given a warehouse and space in a strip mall for next to nothing
  • Lost 3 of our team (I cried a lot during this time) but gained 4 more team members
  • Had our first church BBQ. It was a hit and I began to have hope (not like I’d ever questioned God or anything- that was sarcasm.)
  • Gained a worship band… and we were two weeks from our “Pre-Launch.”
  • Spent an insane amount of hours:
    • Cleaning the building
    • Re-drywalling an entire room (there was carpet on the walls.)
    • Peeling glue off the cement floors (several times)
    • Primed and painted every single wall in those areas
    • Cleaning more…
    • Painting more…
    • Scraping dog urine and feces off the warehouse floor with this crazy rented floor scraper (It had been a doggie hotel. Yes, I am serious.)
    • Climbed up into the dropped ceiling in the warehouse to discover… wait for it… PILES of dog hair from a dog hair vacuum vent. Took several trash bags to dispose of it.
    • Cleaned out the ductwork (think hair…)
    • Glued down carpet squares in two rooms
    • Scoured 4 bathrooms (one with a weird shower…)
    • Procured a stage and then had to fix it due to huge holes in it.
    • Stained the concrete floor upstairs
    • Had random worship practices while sitting on the concrete floor or upside down paint cans
    • Found huge cable spools for tables
    • Borrowed a sound system… and

Take a Breath... I think that's it.

My emotions during this time? Numb. There wasn’t time to pause and think about it. It was constantly… GO…GO…GO.  And then the doubt crept in. We lost our first hire within two months. We lost most of the worship band but gained a dedicated worship leader. We lost support from those close to us. Previous friendships faded and almost ceased to exist when our lives became fast-paced with the church plant. We saw people walk in the doors, tell us that they would be back- and then they wouldn’t. On our actual Launch day, a woman stood up and walked out during the sermon. (When there’s only 16 people in attendence… you kinda notice.) And all this time, I am weeping inside, mostly because of my pride and insecurity. I wanted to run. I wanted to leave. I had thoughts of loading up my car with my children and driving 7 hours to my parents just to escape the constant drama of church planting. We (as a church) were accused of: 
  • Being too young
  • Putting our young family in danger because of the workload of ministry
  • Being egotistical to think that we could (even with God’s Help- goodness!) plant and grow a church
  • Planting a church in a city of churches
  • Trying to be too forward thinking in regards to how church should run
  • Trying to run the church like a business
  • Not giving clear expectations to our first hire
  • Not fulfilling expectations of what a church plant would look like to our original team
  • Miscommunication… a lot.
  • Unorganization
  • "Playing" church instead of being the church
I still wrestle with the pain of all those accusations. I feel deeply about this church that God grew in our hearts to plant. And because I feel deeply, most all criticism hurts. That and the complete and utter physical exhaustion of planting a church can wear on a person. But God has assured me of one thing over and over. He is there. Forever. And he hears my cry for help. No matter how many times…

Psalm 18:6-19

When I was in trouble, I called out to the Lord.
 I cried to my God for help.
 From his temple he heard my voice.
 My cry for help reached his ears. The earth trembled and shook.
 The base of the mountains rocked back and forth.
 It trembled because the Lord was angry.
 Smoke came out of his nose.
 Flames of fire came out of his mouth.
 Burning coals blazed out of it. He opened the heavens and came down.
 Dark clouds were under his feet. 
He got on the cherubim and flew.
 The wings of the wind lifted him up.
 He covered himself with darkness.
 The dark rain clouds of the sky were like a tent around him.
 Clouds came out of the brightness that was all around him.
 They came with hailstones and flashes of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven.
 The voice of the Most High God was heard.
 He shot his arrows and scattered our enemies.
 He sent great flashes of lightning and chased the enemies away.
 The bottom of the sea could be seen.
 The foundations of the earth were uncovered.   Lord, it happened when your anger blazed out.
 It came like a blast of breath from your nose. He reached down from heaven. He took hold of me.
 He lifted me out of deep waters.
 He saved me from my powerful enemies.
 He set me free from those who were too strong for me. They stood up to me when I was in trouble.
 But the Lord helped me.
 He brought me out into a wide and safe place.
 He saved me because he was pleased with me.

Update 2020:

There's a lot of things now, looking back, that my husband and I would change if we were to go back and have a do-over. We would have prayed more firmly about our original church plant team. We had two couples join us from the beginning, and church planters warned us that our original team would leave us eventually. We were naive and thought, "No way! These are some of my husband's best friends!" One couple left us before the first year was up. The other stayed with us through thick and thin... then left after 5 years. I am grateful for both of these couples... because without them we would have never been able to get off the ground. None of us knew the depth of what we were undertaking until WE WERE IN IT. What we didn't understand was that God would send us the couples and families that we would need to survive past Year Five. These families and couples have been a complete GOD-SEND. They have been flexible... full of grace... and there for us like a true family. These are the people who I call when we're experiencing an emergency, heartache or frustration. Since this post was written, the church God planted has moved twice. We've grown, then lost people, then grown some more. We've gone through great interns and several great children's directors. But through it all, we've stayed faithful to the church that called us to plant. And we're still plugging away......Sharing Truth (through discipleship and teaching)... Giving Grace (learning to accept God's grace and give it to others)... and Loving Others (with our words and actions.)
Called Out.

Called Out.

There's an epidemic that is sweeping our nation, and it seems so elusive at times I can hardly put my finger on it. 

  • It comes with a friend bailing on you because another bigger, better party (or nap opportunity) came up. 
  • It comes when marriages break into a million little pieces and call everyone into question that surrounds the broken relationship.
  • It comes when families no longer understand the value of trust and giving without asking for payback.
  • It comes when someone stops shopping at the Mom&Pop shop because a new and better store came into town. 
  • It comes when a friend continues to ghost you and not call, text, or message back with no apology. Even months later. 
  • It comes when a family leaves your church because it's not filling their own needs.

What is this thing that has emerged in our personal thoughts, families, lifestyles, relationships, marriages, and now churches? 


Some would call it a lack of commitment. But where did the previous commitment go? Was it even really there in the first place? As I look back at our nation's history... I see a trail of disloyalty within the church. Churches splitting... new denominations created... competitions growing amidst congregations.

Since planting a church, a whole new level of disloyalty has emerged. And this one... scares me.

As I've poured thru scripture, my understanding of what Jesus called the church to, was mostly incorrect. (Here's a hint... the church was called to be a Kingdom.) A paragraph in the 2nd chapter of Acts continues to haunt me as I learn more and more about the Kingdom of God.

Acts 2:42-47 The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Community of Believers

Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had.  Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another's homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility. They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it's because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.

I don't believe we are called just to gather to have our needs filled. (Gasp!) If we are only looking to love ourselves... then we will attend a church if they provide: an excellent and entertaining kids' ministry; an uplifting and rocking praise and worship service; bible studies with popular teachers that draw crowds; and a preacher who is funny, yet serious, yet knows his Bible in the original languages and can relate to everyone he comes in contact with.

Honestly, looking at that last statement takes my breath away... and not in a good way. Like someone punched me in the throat kind of way. People are openly choosing to be disloyal to the Kingdom of God... over and over and over.

Commitment Issues

They choose their comfort over maturing spiritually. (It's not easy.) They decide to point fingers of judgment towards others instead of just loving them. They choose to sleep in, instead of investing in those that God has called us to love upon. They decide to leave a church behind without even a word because they weren't given the proper "acknowledgment" that they thought they deserved. They choose to forgo building relationships with friends in the church because it gets real... quick. They prefer to gossip and divide the Kingdom openly with harsh words about others.

That's not right. That's not what Jesus came to establish.

I'm humbled by the simple fact that God has allowed my husband and I to be a part of such a loving and grace-filled community during the last six years. But I hurt when I see people choose to be disloyal to the church over and over and over... and not just our church. All churches, nationwide. 

There seems to be a fear of telling the truth to those we need to be honest with... but more importantly, a fear of telling the truth to ourselves.

We need to ask ourselves... what do we really want?

To be a part of the Kingdom? Because that, people, demands loyalty.

3 Pieces of Advice for Future Church Planter’s Wives

3 Pieces of Advice for Future Church Planter’s Wives

As we have planted, I've had many prospective church plant women approach me asking for advice. "What do I need to know or anticipate with church planting?" "What should I do to prepare for church planting?" This question was always hard to answer. Since I'm a person who needs to process things over time (to make sure I communicate what I'm thinking clearly), it took me awhile to fully understand what they were even asking me. When I gave answers at first, like: "It's nothing like working in an established ministry..." "It will exhaust you spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically..." "You spend most of your time on your knees in battle..."- it didn't seem to alleviate the stress in their eyes. So, I'm going to begin to compile a list of things that take precedent in your new world of church planting. Some of the things I offer, people will look at as trivial. Or too easy to say. And honestly, I don't care. After almost 5 years in the church planting world, these are things that I have found make our world easier. I have not listed them in order of importance, just as they come to me. (Because that, my friend, is how my brain works.  Slow processor-- remember?)

#1 Keep your focus WIDE

When you become so hyper-focused on one thing within the church plant, you will miss the small details that can cause trouble down the road.  As a supportive wife to your planter husband, make sure you pay attention to small details that he may miss.  If the Holy Spirit brings to your attention something that may seem trivial at the time, but could eventually blow up out of proportion, tell him immediately. For example:
  • You notice the hard line of a man's face and his condescending tone about something awry in the church... weeks later, he and his family ghost on your texts and voice mails and stop attending.
  • More and more problems with leadership within a ministry seem to be being brought to the surface. Red flags... if you will.
  • A family begins to pull away from you and circle their wagons with other families in the church. There is no disdain, only whispers of gossip from within the circle.
  • Two women clash. Their resentment of each others begins to affect their families and then, their friend circles.
  • One ministry is struggling, while another is flourishing.
  • The amount of events are killing your volunteers' aptitudes and attitudes towards ministry.
When your vision stays WIDE, you will begin to see how God is molding the plant into His Vision for it. If you have tunnel-vision, you may be a good ministry leader, but you will not be a good church planter.  Make sure that as leaders you notice those small details that can bring a church down. Constantly be scanning for problems as you move ahead towards the future. All good entrepreneurs are always looking to the future. Be present in your present, but be looking ahead to where God has gone ahead of you.

#2 Don't you dare gossip to anyone about people. Anyone.

Sorry for the super harsh vocabulary- but this one gets me frustrated. We should never open our mouth to gossip or speak unkindly of others within the walls of our church, as well as outside the walls of our church. I am guilty of this. And it does not end well. God will hold out on his blessings for you and it always affects your church... and ultimately the Kingdom. So, please, I beg you for the sake of the Kingdom- keep your tongue silent. You may think that you have that one girlfriend who wouldn't ever pass the gossip on. But guess what- it will color how she views what you are griping about. She will start to watch that person/ministry more closely and have more things to add to your fire. And when that happens?  Not good... Also, don't tell me that you just share "concerns" or "prayer requests" when you just want to "talk" and make someone else look pathetic... or make yourself look better.  Get over yourself. If you truly want to help someone out by asking for prayer for them, go to the source and ask permission. Then ask what they want to be shared. Be respectful of their privacy.

#3 Don't criticize other church planters or ministers in established churches.

We are all in this Kingdom-Building together. If we continue to pick apart other ministries, we are literally picking fights with our own calvary. Come on, people. It seems ridiculous right? But it happens.  So put an end to it, starting in your own church. And squash it when it happens. I mean, other churches are still the Bride of Christ... no matter how tarnished. Christ still loves and died for them. Let's instead learn to pray for each other as churches, instead of compete, gossip and tear down other Brides that God loves.  
Competition: Part 2

Competition: Part 2

The glow inside that rustic barn was almost magical... lights twinkled from barren trees that lined the room and gauzy gold curtains seemed to almost pour down the walls in glimmers of sweet light. The enchantedly beautiful bride and her nervous groom stood quietly holding each others hands at the end of an aisle covered in white rose petals. The groom stood almost a foot taller than her and looked down upon his bride with an unbearable love that showed anxiousness, excitement and unwavering grace in his watering eyes. She peeked up at him with unabashed love and excitement and they patiently waited for the minister to welcome everyone gathered. The crowd of family and close friends leaned forward in their wooden chairs, listening to the music swell and waiting in anticipation for the start of the ceremony to unite these two wonderful people, almost embarrassed to be witnesses of the intimacy of this time. I sat with my purse in my lap, rows back and took in the intimacy of the situation. It brought tears to my eyes knowing the stories of these two great people my husband and I have  had the privilege of getting to know over the last year. I watched as my husband officiated the ceremony and opened his Bible, smiling as he began speaking to the crowd of witnesses. "Ephesians 5:22-33."He cleared his throat and shot a look at the two in front of him. "Oh, Lord... "I prayed quickly as a hush  fell over the crowd. "Help those listening to understand what he's about to explain to them..."
" Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
I could tell that some people's walls immediately went up when they heard the words, "Wives, submit..." and they were already tuning him out. "Help them to listen and hear what You want them to hear..." I whispered to my God. You could have heard a pin drop. And then, I watched as my husband paused... smiled to the crowd and continued.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—  for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."
After finishing the scripture, I listened as he continued; people leaned forward in their seats to try and figure out where he would go next. "See here's the deal," he said turning his attention to the crowd. "So often this passage has received a bad rap because we forget to read the end of the passage. You see, husbands are called to present their wives as Christ presents the Church. The church is messy. I mean, it’s filled with people like us! (A chuckle swept over the crowd.) We are people who don’t have it all together all the time. People who make mistakes and have bad days. People who sin. Even though we don’t deserve it or look good to others, Christ presents us, the Church, as holy and blameless. We’ve talked about how it’s the groom's role to love his new bride in the same way. And no matter what happens, sickness and in health... after shopping trips and long days at work... he is called to love his bride and present her as beautiful and blameless. When a bridegroom loves his bride this way, the natural response is for her to respect him. This groom you see before you today is a man ready to be a husband his bride can respect. I look forward to seeing their marriage reflect Christ's love for the church." Shoulders relaxed and light flooded the faces of those sitting around me.  I could hear whispers of excitement and heads nodding along with him. And then it hit me. The Holy Spirit convicted me in those moments and humbled my heart.  I began to wipe tears from my eyes as I realized another side to this verse that I had never quite grasped. We bash the bride of Christ (his Church) all the time. And we are the bride of Christ.  How twisted is that? In my mind, I see a group of wedding dress clad women screaming at each other, pulling each other's hair, clawing at each other's dresses and hurling handfuls of mud at each other's dresses. Pret-ty ugly. We may all be imperfect churches. We might have a hard time getting along. But we are family. We are a kingdom. And we should at least TRY to work together and uplift each other. Praise Jesus for those churches who do exactly that!
  • Who step out in faith and help a church in need.
  • Who send workers to help a struggling church with excitement and not frustration that they are losing members of their church to another.
  • Who talk excitedly about another church in town that is GROWING!
  • Who ask new plants what their needs are and scramble to help them fulfill them
  • Who work together to reach the community around them that they share in order to bring the Gospel to those who haven't heard it

Back to Love

We as churches have a problem.  A problem with love.  If we cannot love our fellow churches... and church members...then the Kingdom will never advance as fast as it could.
So... love, people.  Give grace when others in your church body make mistakes.... share truth with empathy when someone in your church body needs to hear from God's Word... and then just love them.
It doesn't make sense for us to attack our own Body. (This goes for us picking other churches apart too, people.) Yet we still do it through:
  • Gossip
    • Divisive (the kind that destroys churches by dividing people)
    • Plain Petty
  • Condescending glances
  • The "I Could Do It Better" Mentality when it comes to volunteer roles (even paid positions) within the Church
  • Harsh Criticism of
    • Worship
    • Preaching
    • Children's Ministry
    • Outreach and Events
    • Other Church Ministries
  • Being Exclusive within our churches (going back to Middle School)
  • Church Jumping (Try staying and pushing through the challenge to experience health)
What is that saying? Love conquers all? I mean, isn't that exactly what Christ did for us? Loved us so much to give up his own life to conquer sin for us? Man, we needed that.
Competition: Part 1

Competition: Part 1

This one has been a long time simmering in the back of my heart and mind. And honestly, I try to ignore and wish away this ugly truth. It goes against everything that Jesus spoke of; it has no benefit to the advancement of the gospel; and it creates hypocrisy in our churches that non-believers notice. So... pretty much... all negative. (And the inner peacekeeper in me screams, "Why can't we just all get along????") I noticed it when I was just six years old, playing out in the yard with a neighbor boy. We were seriously discussing our churches (which is hilarious when remembering our age at the time) and I started to realize something strange.  Anytime I mentioned something at our church, he would mention something better at his church. And when he mentioned something different at his church, I felt the need (and followed through on it) to one up him with something equally cool or more different at my church. I left that conversation feeling disappointed in myself; I still wish I could go back and change the way I talked with him. It was competition... plain and simple. And I knew (even at that young age) that we should have been encouraging each other in our differences instead of competing with each other.

Church Competition

Through our ministries, my Hubs and I have watched and regrettably listened as people use their own churches to compete against each other.
"We have an amazing children's program! Seriously. I don't know why families in our town go anywhere else!" "That church only sings hymns. They are so out of touch with the rest of our society." "I could never attend a church that used drums in their worship." "We left our previous church because they had decided to do another building program. I mean... why? Aren't they taking enough of our money?" "That church is way too big. I like for my kids to sit with me and not feel judged when they are antsy during service."
These comments make my heart ache. Like almost a depressing ache. Oh... and people... it gets worse. It gets worse when ministers, elders and leaders in churches speak these words or let their actions portray this to others. That breaks my heart. It makes me physically weak and pushes me to my knees.  I don't understand it. I do understand that as humans, we feel the need to compete with each other: in our jobs, our friendships, our athletics, how we raise our children...  But I wonder, is this what God created us for? From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus created a team (12 disciples).  And then, at his ascension, he sent his team out to do ministry all over the world (while still working together.) They didn't get it right all the time-- (check out the book of Acts to see this in action)-- but they tried to work together as best as they could. I think a lot of the time, churches today get this wrong.  We compete with each other: for people (most of them already believers), for fame (should we ever be seeking this?), for money (but it's God's money), for kids (create the best kids program in town), for teens (provide tons of food, games and loud music)... the list goes on and on. What I don't understand is why we can't all work together to accomplish the goal of Christ TOGETHER. Do we not understand how much more effective we would all be if we would be there to love and support each other as fellow churches? At Thrive, we strive to work together with other churches. If someone comes through our doors and doesn't click with Thrive- we support them in finding another Bible-teaching church that will push them in their walk with Christ that we couldn't. We would rather them leave Thrive than  never serve or use their gifts that God created them to use.

The Body of Christ

When reading through the book of 1 Corinthians, I have always loved chapter 12. The section I'm gonna focus on starts in verse 12:

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:

first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.

29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.

But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.
Guys.  Girls.  What if the apostle Paul wasn't just referring to a single body of believers (a single church) here. What if he was referring to the ENTIRE BODY of believers.  Every church. Every nation. Everywhere. If we read this like that-- I wonder if we would start acting as if we are on the same team instead of competing teams. Why can't we as churches work together to be the body of Christ to those around us who don't know Christ? If one church has a need, why is it so hard for another church in the area to step in and help fill that need? Why do we always feel the need to compete with other churches?  And again I think, "Why can't we just all get along????"
 I think Paul was trying to give us a major hint in verse 31 when he wrote, "But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all..."
Guys. Girls.  The entire next chapter (13) is all about LOVE. 
Huh. be continued...