Here are 10 things we can do as pastors to encourage the kind of community God wants to create among us.


1. Teach and preach the whole, full gospel.  Vertical (with God) reconciliation and fellowship—yes!—but also horizontal (with others).  They are two sides of the same coin.  We are recapturing the genius of our heritage here.  Holiness does not happen as an individual project.  That is why God draws us into fellowship.  We must have the support and challenge of others to become the Holy people of God.  Also, only when we are in fellowship with others do we reflect the God who is Triune, in the fellowship of holy love as Father, Son, and Spirit.


2. Model true fellowship, that is deep one another participation in the lives of others.  Delight and enter into such mutual participation.  Celebrate true fellowship in the life of the church personally and publicly.


3. Be real with people.  You are on the way, just as you wish your people to be.  You struggle, have growing edges, and sometimes fail.  Appropriate, Spirit-directed sharing encourages others to share, lets them know it is OK not to be perfect, to be on the way, and establishes your credibility as one who is walking the way you commend in preaching and teaching.


4. Discern the folk who have a heart for God, who truly want God to have God’s way.  Cherish them, encourage them, join with them in seeking God.  They can become the nucleus of a new movement of the Spirit within the church.


5. Let the fellowship of these God-centered ones become a think-tank, and a prayer-tank.  Make seeking God’s will for the church a priority among these folk.  Ask them to join you in seeking for God’s specific direction for the church.


6. Encourage, and facilitate small group- or cell group-sharing with one another within the church.  Focus on how it is the Holy Spirit is working transformation in our lives personally and relationally.  Focus also on how we are actually sharing (or could) in the ongoing mission of Jesus in our daily lives.  Make such communal seeking and sharing and mutual supporting the heart of discipling ministries.  If the church is not ready to develop a "small group ministry," then encourage this sort of small group interaction in S.S., mid-week, or even in worship settings.


7. Remember that in every gathering and meeting, you are first the church, and only secondarily a committee, board, task force etc.  Make prayer and praise, seeking God’s presence and direction, sharing praises and needs, a priority item on every church agenda.


8. Encourage inter-generational dynamics and activities—interaction between younger and older.  Find ways to mix people, bring them into connection, so the Spirit can impress the Body with how he is working in different people’s lives and so that our insights and gifts can be made available for others.


9. Encourage exposure to people of different cultures.  Ask people to consider a short term mission trip, or to visit a city mission, or prison or jail ministry—putting them into position to see how God creates bonds of fellowship and sharing between people who are very different from one another.  And, expect such exposure to lead to involvement. 


10. Let conflicts and relational strain stimulate: discerning essentials from non-essentials, with a commitment to yield and submit mutually on non-essentials, moving back to the cross to reaffirm what it is that binds us together, repenting of anger and hostility, dying to these by the power of the Spirit, and learning how to relate in Christ-like ways.


Published by David Kendall

Reverend David W. Kendall, an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference, was elected to the office of bishop of the Free Methodist Church in May 2005. He serves as overseer of East Michigan, Gateway, Great Plains, Mid-America, North Central, North Michigan, Ohio, Southern Michigan, Wabash, African Area Annual Conferences; and Coordinator of oversight for the World Ministries Center.

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  1. 0

    with #’s 4 & 5, how do we fit the concept of the outsiders becoming the insiders, even without meeting certain insider qualifications? (if it seems like having a certain level of “heart for God” or “God-centeredness” is becoming a qualification)

  2. 0

    Good question, Wick. I was thinking that those inside the church whose heart beats for God will seek outsiders the way God does, and by “stewarding” them they will help the whole church to orient more fully around the mission God has for the church.

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