“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” -Philippians 1:27
This is part 4 in our series meant to encourage and challenge all of us to engage one another in new ways in 2020. In this post, we will address growing closer TOGETHER.
By the age of 33, Alexander The Great managed to build a massive empire, almost unprecedented in the ancient world. After all of his conquests, he was undefeated in battle. One of his incredible victories is seen in his decisive battle against the emperor Darius and the Persian empire at the battle of Gaugamela, wherein he successfully defeated a much larger army, estimated to be roughly 250,000, with an army of about 50,000! That’s astonishing no matter how you think about it.
One of his key weapons was the Macedonian Phalanx. The Phalanx was a battle formation that was like a super-weapon in the ancient world. Ultimately, the soldiers were in a tight rectangular formation, and everyman covered each others vulnerable points, “from thigh to neck”. In other words, they strategically fought TOGETHER and trusted each other. Of course this took training, discipline, courage, and time to develop, but it was time well-spent as seen in their many successes on the battle field.
Why the history lesson? Because this type of fighting-together is partially in the backdrop of what Paul has in mind when he mentions his hope to find the believers in Philippi “striving side-by-side” for the faith of the gospel. The Scriptures point to a depth of unity in the spirit and in mind amongst believers that shines as we press into this world. This made me wonder, how long does that unity take to form as we walk side-by-side?
Interestingly, I ran across a study in 2018 that explored how long it takes from the time you first meet someone until they are considered a “friend.” It also traced the amount of time until that person is considered a “good/best” friend. The study revealed on average it takes about 50 hours to be considered a casual friend, 90 hours to reach “friend” status, and 200 hours to be considered “close friends”. While we wouldn’t take these studies as equal truth claims to the Scriptures, there may be observations worth considering from them. Significantly, the issue of time takes front and center in this study.
That got me thinking, how long would it take for an average church member to achieve that amount of time together with another member?
Let’s assume you’re engaging in a weekly small group (not everybody is) and attending Sunday mornings consistently? If we’re generous in the amount of interaction and consistency in those venues (not including travel time, etc.), it would take almost a year, in some cases more than a year, to make connections in the body that would be considered “friends” on any level. That’s eye-opening when you think of it.
With that being said, how can we practically cultivate this level of “striving side-by-side” that leads us to love, trust, and come alongside one-another as we seek to advance the gospel in our homes, and community?
Plug in beyond Sunday mornings. We have small groups that meet in homes, Sunday school hour, and mid-week time of prayer to help people with varying schedules and seasons of life to plug-into the body. You can find more information about each of these on the website under the “ministries” tab.
Meet 1-1 with another believer or with 2 other believers for 8-12 weeks of intentional prayer, study, or conversation. You can grab coffee, lunch, workout, cook, fold laundry, evangelize, or just spend intentional time together. You can pray, read a book of the Bible together, another book, have intentional conversation over a list of questions, or all of the above! I have a list of questions you can ask or you can make your own to fit the occasion. Rotate people, expand your meeting to include another and generally seek to learn from and bless a variety of people.
Try to do life with others in general. A lot of trust can be gained and love can occur when we take time and do life together. Family time isn’t ALL business ALL the time. It consists of work, play, rest, conversations, new experiences, chores, and more. Strive to let your church family have similar exchanges in rhythms of life together outside of Sunday morning.
The Lord has done a tremendous work at KBC through small groups and fostering relationships in other ways, and I believe we still have much room for growth.
To that end, pray with us as we consider ways to increase our times of meaningful interaction together. Consider how God might be moving in you to engage more or to help cultivate this systematically. All of this with the aim of fostering greater unity and relational depth, that ultimately overflows in our community for the advance of the gospel and the praise of Christ.
“We are members of a body, not only when we choose to be, but in our whole existence. Every member serves the whole body, either to its health or to its detriment.” -Dietrich Boenhoffer