Rules of the Road
How we treat one another is probably the most discussed topic of scripture. Even individual holiness requirements often have social impact. It always boils down to love, right? “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8) However, if it were that simple, there would probably be a lot less Bible. Sometimes, we need examples, specifics, on what love feels like, looks like, sounds like. Thankfully, we have it in Jesus and in so much of God’s word, but it never hurts to be clear about expectations.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada has ethical guidelines that lay out our expectations of one another. They include:
A. We will treat one another with courtesy and kindness. We will endeavor to maintain an attitude of Christian love in all our relationships.
B. We will welcome the expression of differing viewpoints and will seek to create an atmosphere of trust and confidence that will encourage free discussion.
C. We will seek to keep confidences and will refrain from gossip. We will seek in all we do and say to strengthen character and dignify personality.
D. We will remember that our personal conduct gives evidence of our sincerity and reflects upon the good name of the Church, the Body of Christ.
(You can read more here: https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/SC-EthicalGuidelines.pdf )
What might change if you wrote a code of conduct for your relationships or your household? How might the conversation help those relationships?
The Value of Values
Values are one’s judgement about what is important in life. Roy E. Disney said,“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
Many of us find it hard to articulate what their values are beyond very generic words like “faith” and “family”.
When we are not clear on our values, we can fall into the trap of passing judgement or having opinions that are unrelated to our values. Spend a few moments understanding what your values are by using the exercise provided here by CMU: https://www.cmu.edu/career/documents/my-career-path-activities/values-exercise.pdf
Once you have done that holy work, use your core values to be sure that your life is reflecting them. Then, keep the long list of values in the beginning of the article. Stick it in your Bible. As you are reading your Bible each day, ask yourself, “What does the Lord value?” Does your daily reading reflect a value of God? Are you seeing some values reflected more than others? Do they match your own?
Listen, Listen, Listen
Julian Treasure, a sound and communication expert, said “the art of conversation is being replaced-dangerously I think- by personal broadcasting.” He’s referring to the danger of all talk, and no listening.
Treasure suggests we remember the acronym RASA. “RASA stands for "Receive," which means pay attention to the person; "Appreciate," making little noises like "hmm," "oh," "OK"; "Summarize" -- the word "so" is very important in communication; and "Ask," ask questions afterwards.”
Finally, hear the advice of scripture about listening.
“If one gives answer before hearing, it is folly and shame”. Proverbs 18:13
Don’t simply be working out your answer while the other person is speaking. Deeply listen and try to understand what another person says.
“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;” James 1:19
After you’ve heard what someone has to say, don’t rush to answer. Don’t rush to judge. Don’t rush to argue. Slow down. Take a minute. Getting angry? Take another.
Finally, if you spend more time listening to God, it makes it a lot easier to listen well when others start talking.
To read more about being a better listener, consider reading:
Keep it Simple
A simple church is a congregation designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. Many of our churches have become cluttered. So cluttered that people have a difficult time encountering the simple and powerful message of Christ. So cluttered that many people are busy doing church instead of being the church’ Thom S. Rainer- Simple Church
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
When I arrived at Brightwood two years ago, I was welcomed with open arms. And, although I was excited about this wonderful church, I wasn’t in any hurry to start a lot of programming. I wanted to get to know the people, the church culture, and our neighborhood.
People are busier than ever these days. As a working mother of two, I long to create a life of faith that isn’t seen as just one more thing to have to fit into an already busy schedule. I want people to have time to know their neighbors, love their children, and have long and meaningful conversations with their friends. In the book, Simple Church, by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger, the authors discuss a broad study of growing congregations. Their conclusion is that healthy, vibrant, growing churches are simple and focused. They aren’t in the business of busyness but have designed themselves to help people grow in faith. Everything they do is centered around that work.
Our congregation is in the process of getting simple and focused. We met for a full day in June to talk about the importance of knowing with pinpoint accuracy who we are as a church and what we are called to do. On August 4th, we met again to continue that work. Out of that work, a mission statement was born: "Brightwood Christian Church is a welcoming community of Christians seeking to grow in faith and service."
At a brief congregational meeting this Sunday, September 9th, we’ll hear a bit about how we came to it, share what we’re doing about it, and ask members to affirm it. Then, if the statement is affirmed, I’ll preach about how the mission statement relates to the scripture throughout October and we’ll be frequently updating you on how the mission is being lived out in the work of the church. Until then, prayerfully consider how you might help Brightwood live out our mission.
To read more about the Simple Church concept, read it here:
Rev. Jana Quisenberry is the minister at Brightwood Christian Church. She's an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN, She now resides in Mt. Lebanon with her husband, two children, and dog, Sookie. Pastor Jana loves the church, science fiction, and coffee.
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