Committed to community
One of the greatest challenges faced by churches amid the “present distress” has been establishing and maintaining community within the body of Christ. In an effort to confront that challenge, Faith Family has instituted a new program we’re calling R12, short for Romans 12, where the apostle Paul stresses the importance of serving one another according to our giftedness. God has designed the body so that each member functions interdependently, serving the other members and thus producing harmony, or community.
It is vitally important that Christians understand how important this is, individually and collectively, to our spiritual well-being. National Public Radio reported, “The coronavirus shutdowns have weakened church connections. A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that one-third or more of those who had previously attended church regularly were not bothering to watch online services. For those whose church affiliation was already tenuous, the disconnect may be permanent.”
Beginning in January, in order to prevent further disconnect and foster new connections, we are inviting Faith Family Church attendees to be a part of an R12 group. These groups consist of six to eight adults—or approximately three or four families—who meet in each household once a month for a simple meal. This over a period of four months. We will be putting R12 groups together randomly every four months, starting January 2021.
Once R12 groups are announced, each group will decide their own four monthly meeting dates and times that work for everyone (i.e., each R12 Group plans a meeting date in January, February, March, and April). Each household takes a turn to host a meal and sets the menu "in the style of the house." The host usually provides the main course, while the other participants chip in to provide the rest of the meal.
After four months, the R12 Group ends. At that point you are free to opt out of being randomly assigned to a new R12 group for the next four months. If you opt out, you always have the option to rejoin R12 in a future four-month cycle. It is our prayer and goal that R12 will strengthen bonds within our church by deepening friendships, helping us make new friends with those whom we might not otherwise interact, and making our church feel smaller and warmer.
I exhort you in the Lord to make a commitment to community. If you feel this is not in your “wheelhouse” and takes you out of your comfort zone, remember God has called you to community (see 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 John 1:3), and he has gifted you to minister to the other members. The scriptures say that God “makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:16 NLT)
In life, the most valuable things, and the things we hold most dear are those which spring from commitment, either our own commitment or that of others. Devoting yourself to your spouse serves only to strengthen your marriage. The same is true of your job, your personal improvement, or your church. The greater your investment, the greater your benefit. Therefore, I encourage you, go to the church’s website and sign up for R12 today. Ask God to make you a blessing to the body of Christ and discover the blessing he will pour out on you.
I’ve been a pastor for over 30 years and currently am the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Finksburg, Maryland, a small town near Baltimore.