We’re doing a series right now on what it means to be the church Jesus intended. It starts by realizing that “All of life is relationship—the rest is supporting detail.” But getting the American church to believe this and live this way, as I said, “It’s hard as hell! Because all hell’s against it.” So I want to explore on my blog a little more in depth why this is so challenging, and why it’s worth leading each other to fight for it!
Dr. Will Miller says Refrigerator Rights tell us a lot about our relational health. Those with Refrigerator Rights feel close enough to us to walk into our home, open the refrigerator, and help themselves. Not in a “Kraemer” sort of way—but it feels right and healthy because we’ve invited them in—to our homes, our hearts, and even our refrigerators. This is how the early church functioned:
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
Their unity and impact came from meeting together in all 4 relational spaces that sociologists have determined humans need to belong and feel a sense of purpose together. Jesus also utilized all four relational spaces, and the church can too. In the next few posts, I’ll look at how we can utilize each of these spaces along with the challenges and opportunities of each:
- Public Space (large gatherings of 100’s to 1000’s)
Jesus gathered large groups to teach them the way of the Father. The early church gathered in the Temple with 1000’s to learn the same Way from the Apostles (the understudies of Jesus).
- Social Space (medium-sized gatherings of 20-70)
More and more people were caught up in the relational momentum of Jesus and his followers. They attended weddings, parties, and dinners, going to where people did life. They were like this big, extended family (Martha, Mary, Lazarus, Joanna, Mary Magdalene, etc. were those mentioned in this extended family). But they were also sent out on Jesus’ mission (He sent the 72 out to do the exact ministry He did).
- Private Space (family sized “Refrigerator Rights” relationships with 8-15)
Jesus chose 12 whom He spent way more time equipping and investing into. They were like family to each other, doing life together, growing and learning together.
- Intimate Space (1-3 people you completely trust, and they completely trust you).
And within the 12, Jesus had 3 who functioned as his intimate “confidantes” that He would take aside and share more personal matters with, “Pray for me, my soul is deeply troubled,” He said to Peter, James, and John.
Leading the church to live together as the “family” and “extended family,” re-created under the Father’s guidance was what Jesus was doing. Re-creating a spiritual family who do not become a self-centered clique but a serving, inclusive community that invites others into belonging (with God and others) is what Jesus is still wanting to do this through his church—that’s you. I’d be interested to hear what your experience has been trying to live out Jesus’ relational model of church and ministry.