In many ways starting a church from scratch is completely different than being in a church that is already established. But there are also a lot of similarities as well. In the last few days, I have been pondering on what are the basics of doing church and what are some of the peripheral things that we can do without.
One thing that keeps on coming back as an essential is relationships. Ministry cannot be done without relationships. It really doesn’t matter how the relationships are built but it is critical that community is experience. It is pivotal that people experience “a visible display and a viable demonstration of God’s love.”
I have been encouraged by the team members and their focus and intentionality in building relationships with some of the people that God has been bringing our way. Even today, the guys and I went to play some basketball with some college students… some of them are studying in the States and are back for summer vacation, while others are students who attend some of the top universities in Indonesia.
Building relationships by playing basketball reminds me a lot of how HMCC of AA got started back in 1996. I remember going to the gym with some of the people who were interested in our church, as well as with people that we met along the way.
I think there is something about guys and sports. Even though we might not say much, there is a bond that develops when we play together. As some of us were substituting in and out, I had a good opportunity to share my testimony with one of the players. The more we make God famous, the more curious people will become about this God that we serve.
One thing we have to keep in mind is that building relationships always require sacrifice. It is always easier to be comfortable and to get into our own little world. Some of our team members started working and they will get tired from a long day of work, but if we are serious about building relationships then we will need to learn how to push ourselves and sacrifice – simply to do whatever it takes.
When we build relationships with people, we have to think less about ourselves and more about the people that we are trying to reach out to and this requires sacrifice. In fact, when we are always trying to be mindful of others, it can get draining, both emotionally as well as physically. This is why it requires sacrifice.
Building relationships in general cost us something, whether it is time or resources but there is always joy at the end when we see people experience transformation through an encounter with the Gospel. Jesus reminded us of this principle when He said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (Jn 12:24). We want to see many seeds planted in the hearts of the people here in Indonesia.