29.7.05

Friendship Jesus style

Thursday nights are always a good opportunity to assess how we're doing as a growing church-plant.

We have what we call a 'friendship meal'. It's a regular opportunity to invite just about anyone to join us for the evening. As a community house, White Stone performs a particular role in church growth. It's not the same as simply having friends round for tea, people invite themselves! (Though we do have right of refusal.) Friendship meals especially offer people the chance to gain access to church-life in a totally informal way, and all the spiritual help that comes with this.

We begin with a grace time, which is a focus for everyone to be together spiritually and pick up any news or announcements, and then we eat. It's a great time for love, laughter and affirmation. The rest of the evening is spent doing anything we please though the emphasis is on being friends together.

The evening is often an opportunity for prayer, and last night three of the young guys took over the prayer-shed in quite a loud way! But it can be a time for peace too, several people got involved in games and art work, and there's occasion for support and solidarity and personal encouragement. A couple of friends came round last night who are making initial steps into Christian life. Sometimes, those who come round face very stressful situations in life, a community can offer strength and practical help in these times. And, finally, it is a time to miss people who aren't there - one of the greatest clues to how well we are serving others and consequently growing.

For me Thursday evenings, show how Christ-like I can be (or not be). At my first friendship meal I offered to make everyone a drink, all 30 of them! The subsequent confusion over who wanted tea or coffee and how many sugars they took taught me my first community-lesson: never offer to make everyone drinks! But on Thursday nights, when the whole world seems to flock into your front room, it is a good test of the heart to see how willing you are to give and to receive. (Especially when it comes to giving everyone lifts home!)

And how did I fare last night? Okay, I guess. I lasted about two hours out of the four, then I began to feel a bit tired and sad inside, a small voice in me was screaming out that I had a right to some friendship too! But it was only a small voice. I suppose it just means I need to make sure I'm not too overstrec... no, no... you see, this is what I mean by becoming more like Christ. Ah... the way of the .

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