Everybody is going to have their strengths and weaknesses. When you spend enough time in any organization this becomes obvious. You can’t be all things to all people. At some point, you will have to choose what you are going to focus on and what you are going to try to shore up over the long haul. At Faith Church West, we have instituted a specific set of core values for the purpose of achieving the overall mission “to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to be more faithful disciples”. Core Value #6 for Faith Church West is: Intimate Church. An intimate church setting is one that gives the feeling of love and warmth of family. We want to live out the ways that we are family, and demonstrate this to all in attendance. While we have never sought out as our directive the mission to make Faith Church larger in number; nevertheless, it has happened and it is a tremendous blessing that comes with a divinely appointed responsibility. Growth of Faith Church and the West campus is by God’s grace and we seek to serve Him as we manage the challenges of growth along the way. To be clear, growth is not a bad thing, not in the least! It is merely a challenge that requires a more purposeful approach in order that we may assure an intimate church setting. All too often, people who belong to a larger church say that they feel a lost sense of closeness and lacking intimacy that they can only find when being part of a smaller congregation. One of the ways that we seek to create closeness and the essence of family is by assuring an intimate atmosphere and engaging experiences.
Why Do We Want Intimate Church?
Before we go any further, we should answer the question, why do we even want to have an intimate church? For some, the idea of having a church that will be like this is the last thing that they want. Some people (not most, but some) want to be left alone, and they don’t want much to do with anyone else that is coming to church.
Most people who come to church want to find a community of people. They want to go to a place where the staff and people at church know who they are. The idea of going to a church where, each week you attend, and no one knows you by name, misses the mark of what Christian community should look like. As a body of believers, we seek to have an intimate and warm church, for many reasons. We seek it because this is a reflection of what relationships look like when God is put first. We seek it because we know that it will help us grow in our own relationship with God.
We seek to have an intimate church because we know that, within this type of loving community, we can care for others and be cared for in a much better way.
Why We Do Not Need to Fear Growth
One of the main reasons people fear large churches is that they believe they are going to lose the warm and intimate church setting that they have enjoyed within a smaller congregation. In their mind they believe this because they reason that there are only so many folks that one person can get to know and, after that, it’s impossible to know or grow with more people. Soon, while not intending it, the logic becomes one where reaching people who are lost is not viewed as a blessing, but a nuisance. This ultimately results in trading-off our desire to proclaim the Risen Christ with a replaced notion of keeping a tight-knit family where there is no more room for others. This type of thinking needs to be rooted out of our heart quickly. While we will not have time to handle the issue here, we will [insert a future post talking about why we do not need to fear growth – coming soon!]
How We can Keep our Church Intimate
So then, the question arises, how do we keep our church intimate? There are a few things that we can do.
First, we need to forsake any of the misconceptions about church growth and how we need to function in the body. Growth is not bad, it is a really good thing. You don’t need to know and/or have a friendship with everyone at the church. You would be lying to yourself to think that it could be possible to have a relationship with every person inside the church…reject that as a possibility, being realistic will help you see the truth that this is not possible or expected.
Second, we meet and engage one another within smaller communities. Joining Faith Groups, serving on Sundays and throughout the week, taking a Faith Community Institute (FCI) class – these are all things that will help us build relationships with others.
Third, we can be intentional on Sunday morning. The follower of Christ will always believe there is room for another person in their life and community. That might mean that things have to change, but this kind of change will be for the good. For example, your small group may need to divide up into two smaller groups. Yes, this might be a challenge, but it will ultimately allow for others to enjoy the deep relationships that you cherish so much.
Finally, you can serve intentionally to make the church a warm and intimate church. We love it when others do things for us. We love to go out to dinner and have others wait on us; we love to have others make the morning coffee, change the oil in our car or fix what’s broken and so on. Often, when folks mention that they feel the church is not a warm and intimate place, we need to look in the mirror to see the problem and the solution. Serve with a smile and with an open heart to others in order that you intentionally create a welcoming that adds to your community, and don’t give up if you are not met with instant success. Often it is hard to see how much good is actually happening as the result of our labors, but God promises to be faithful to our efforts. Though you may not physically see the outcomes of your hospitality in real-time, there is an intimate connection growing for the person who may have otherwise felt the opposite of warmth it weren’t for the care and kindness that you showed them.