February 12, 2013
Dear Canaan EM’ers and friends,
Oh no! Another Valentine’s Day is about to descend upon us! Let’s do our best to avoid superficial expressions of love.
Before I say more about this, I’d like to ask everyone two questions:
1. Would you be able to attend a lunchtime service on Ash Wednesday (March 5, 2014) at church? The 20 minute service will help us start the season of Lent and will be an opportunity to invite our co-workers and friends to eat and meet at Canaan. Bring lunch and join the service at 12:20 pm. How does that sound?
2. On Good Friday (April 18) would you like to have Living Stones Christian Church join us for Good Friday service (like last year)?
Please email, text, Facebook message, call me ASAP!
Now, about those superficial relationships…
Unfortunately, superficial relationships exist and hurt our Christian testimony. Who wants to be part of a church where people don’t really seem to care for one another? How can we experience more fulfilling friendships here at Canaan (or in any church)? The truth is that churches with very diverse life stages and cultures have a hard time cultivating deep friendships. Everyone feels like an outsider. Furthermore, many of us (including myself) are not good at or comfortable with deeper relationships. We may lack self-confidence, feel worn out by too many social interactions, or prefer to be alone. So what can we do?
Here are four very simple ways to begin developing deeper relationships with our brothers and sisters at Canaan.
1. Don’t expect more from others than you are willing to give.
So let’s be honest. Are we expecting more from others than we are willing to give? Do we blame others for not making us feel comfortable when we do little to welcome others into our lives?
In all relationships, it is always a good idea to consider how much we contribute the relationship before counting how much we are receiving. This is similar to what Jesus said about taking the plank out of our own eyes before pointing out the splinter in our neighbor’s.
2. Always give more than you receive.
Okay, so maybe you took the initiative to know someone better. But that person doesn’t respond the way you expected. Don’t dwell on it, otherwise resentment will grow. The thing to do here is to be joyful that God has given you a chance to show grace to someone else.
3. It takes frequent quality time
If you have a spouse, did you marry him or her the very first time you met? I hope not. It takes time for relationships to develop. During the youth parents’ meeting two Sundays ago, Tobi Chen shared a very insightful point: It took time for her to feel like she belonged at Everglow Youth Fellowship. She had to go regularly for several months before she felt like this was her community.
In the same way, deeper relationships require quality time and frequency. Just coming to Sunday worship service alone will not provide quality time for connecting with people even if we attend every week. Infrequent participation in high quality community opportunities (such as second hour, Small Groups, Everglow fellowships, mentoring meetings) will also keep our relationships superficial.
4. Always remember the big picture: it’s about the Gospel
Finally, keep in mind that all that we do (including our relationships) have been repurposed for the Gospel by Jesus. Canaan’s English ministry does not exist primarily as family center or social club. The friendships and community that emerge are by-products of our ministry together, not the end-product.
Spiritually healthy churches, by definition, are comprised of people from different life stages who are able to overcome their natural tendencies to avoid uncomfortable situations. Instead, these churches are filled with people who are committed build deeper relationships because they know that this is how the gospel advances.
In sum, superficial relationships will disappear when we are
1. gracious, generous, forgiving, and patient with each other.
2. committed to spending frequent quality time with others in Canaan.
3. able to see that all our efforts at building relationships are part of God’s mission.
Let’s make Canaan a church where there are no insiders or islands! Let’s stay focused on God’s big picture. This way, we won’t let our relationship “hang ups” prevent us from doing all we can to build up a healthy and strong community at Canaan.
See you Sunday!
Tim Tseng 曾 祥 雨 :: Ph.D.
Pastor of English Ministries
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