Why Care Matters
Someone walks into your church Sunday morning.
They’re looking for a moment of connection with someone, anyone. They’re not even sure what they’re looking for, but they’re looking for something. They look to the left and right, seeing if anyone notices them. Though they were warmly greeted by the welcome team, no one already sitting in the sanctuary notices them when they walk in. They decide to take a seat and see how the rest of the service goes, seeing if they relate to the worship leader, chairperson or the pastor. It was a solid service. But afterward, they sit for a minute or two deciding whether or not they should leave just to avoid the awkwardness of waiting around for a conversation. A few people say hi as they passed by but no significant conversations started. Feeling like they don’t matter, they walk back out the doors, never to return again.
Does this happen more often than our churches would like to admit? Yes – and that’s a problem. The scenario also doesn’t only apply to a newcomer. It could also be for someone who’s been attending your church for a long time.
I can hear the argument that newcomers and current attendees need to take ownership for plugging into a church. True. But whether someone is cared for or not has nothing to do with programs and ministries, but everything to do with culture. Care isn’t a task you need to check off your list, but an attitude you live – and people feel the difference. Churches and Christians are meant to lead the way in care, yet there often seems to be a disconnect between the two. Too many mistaken circumstantial and physical presence with the intentional act of loving and caring for people.
After all, just because you’re around people doesn’t mean you’re being cared for. Just because you’re with people doesn’t mean you’re not feeling alone. It’s entirely possible to be with someone and not truly be with them or to know them. It’s possible to be part of a church and feel disconnected.
So what should we do?
I don’t know a lot. But what I do know is if we don’t intentionally care and create community, it will not happen. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not only talking about church growth. Creating a culture of care has less to do with growing our churches numerically, but everything to do with loving our neighbours extravagantly.
So, there are three understandings we need in order to intentionally create a culture of care.
Understanding #1: We’re All Created For Community.
No matter what people say, we all need community. If you want to create a culture of care, you need to understand this.
In Genesis 2, we see how God formed Adam. God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18), thus Eve was formed.
What’s my point? Adam and Eve filled one purpose in each other – community. Out of the perfect unity of the Godhead came the second community. The main reason Eve was created wasn’t because Adam needed help in the Garden, though I’m sure he did. It’s simply because mankind isn’t meant to live alone. God didn’t all of a sudden realize this in Gensis 2 either since He knows all things. So these words in Genesis highlights a deep and theologically significant truth – we were created for community. Until you understand this fundamental building block of all relationships (not only marriage), it’ll be difficult to care for people the way they need it and the way that God cares for us.
If you don’t understand we’re all created for community, you’ll be either intentionally or unintentionally creating walls of separation instead of bridges for connection. If we understand we’re all created for community, we would understand everyone has a longing for community whether they admit it or not. If we forget this important point, we’ll also forget how once we “were not a people, but now you are the people of God.” (1 Pet. 2:10)
Understanding #2: You Can’t Create Community Without Care.
It’s because God cared for Adam and Eve that God created the first community outside of Himself. It’s because God first cared for Adam that He even noticed Adam is alone. Think about this: Do you think Adam himself even knew he was alone? After all, how can one say they are lonely when there is no other experience to compare it to? It’s not like he once had somebody around and then he didn’t. It seems the void was always there, and perhaps even Adam couldn’t pinpoint what it was.
We learn a valuable lesson from God here. Community doesn’t just exist; you need to create it. When biblical community happens, people will know what they’ve been missing. When we truly care for people, community will naturally happen.
Think about the birth of the church in Acts. After the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost, 3000 people came to know the Lord. Then in Acts 2:42-47, we read how everyone is perfectly united and “all the believers were together and had everything in common. (v. 44) In response to this unity, in verse 45 we read the convicting words of how “They sold property and possession to give to anyone who had need.” (Imagine if we took these words seriously…) The passage then ends with “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (v. 47)
Because care is undeniably attractive and a community of God-loving caring people is naturally beautiful. When the church is truly being the church, people can’t help but notice. When community happens, it’s because someone cares enough to make it happen. In fact, they care enough to go beyond their comfort zone because they want that person to be part of their community.
After all – that’s what Jesus envisioned on the Cross.
Understanding #3: You Can’t Care for Someone If You Don’t Spend Time With Them.
Let’s get practical. There are many things you could do to show care, but it all starts with time. I hear the groans – and I get it. You’re busy. But the truth remains if you don’t spend time with someone, you won’t be able to know them lest forgetting to show care. So how much time do you spend with the people around you? What about the people at our church? If you understand we all have a need for community, then we wouldn’t just reach out because they need it. We would reach out because we believe they make us better. The way we spend our time indicates what’s important to us, and spending time connecting with people shows how they’re important.
This all begins by taking the first step towards showing God’s love by spending time. Simply put, the early church spent more time thinking about others than they did about themselves. I’m not even talking about going out for coffee, lunch or dinner right off the bat. But let’s start with a simple hello after service. You never know how far that hello will go.
What are some other ways to spend time?
- Be part of a small group.
- Be intentional and sincere in asking, “How are you?”
- Talk to someone new or someone different after service every week.
- Serve in a ministry that connects people.
- Look for opportunities in the everyday to serve others.
The 1st-century church believed that every hello had the power to change a life.
Reach out to others.
After all, God was the first one who reached out to you.
Do you want to make a difference at your church? Do you want to make sure everyone feels welcomed and included as part of your community? How is God calling you to display radical love and care in your context?