This post goes with the one from the other day; the state of the church. I believe this is also an area that will help the life of the church, prevent division and brings accountability into the body.
This is one of our motto’s at our church. Friendship before Function: this means relationships before the job, role, occupation, and task.
Acts 2:42-47 gives us a glimpse of the early church, “They met together daily… ate together… prayed together… and God added to their numbers daily…”. They steadfastly persevered, were devoted and totally committed to hear the teachings of the apostles and live this life together.
Even Jesus spent three and a half years befriending twelve men before he felt released to go. In this time they ate together, walked together and talked together. It was during this time that they saw Jesus minister, helped Jesus minister and then were ready to do it on there own.
Here’s what most people in churches today don’t understand.
It was friendship that kept them together during the tough times. Before they went to war (spiritual battles) they knew each other.
Here is why SOME people move from church to church these days and have a hard time setting up roots. It’s because their involvement is based on ministry (the job, task, event or role) and not first on friendship.
Jesus made a statement to Peter in Matthew 16:23, “Get thee behind me Satan.” Can you imagine some Pastors getting up in the middle of their board meetings and saying to someone, “Get thee behind me Satan.”?
How long do you think they would stick around?
There are times as a leader when you have to stand up and deal with people’s agendas and sometimes you even have to do it in public (we try to resolve this privately beforehand but there is a Biblical pattern in Matthew 18 that we need to follow). If they are committed to the relationship then they will receive the correction but if they are only in it for ministry, they often say, “Well, I don’t need this, such and such a church down the street will welcome my talents and anointing not to mention my tithe.” When we are committed to friendship before function then if correction, criticism or even praise comes – it does not destroy us.
If we say we are committed to someone and love someone then why do we not talk to each other when we think we’ve been wronged? A friend values the relationship and doesn’t want anything to get in the way.
For example, many parents say they love their children but they don’t discipline (train) them. The reasons why many parents don’t has nothing to do with love but everything to do with selfishness and pride. They are either to lazy to do it which is selfishness or too embarrassed by their behaviour that they try to cover it up with bribes or manipulation but not correction.
Proper discipline and correction is confrontational and it is work.
The chance Jesus took when confronting Peter was that Peter was going to high tail it and walk away forever. But Peter didn’t run because he knew Jesus’ heart. Jesus had proven himself as a faithful friend and even though it was hard, he survived and grew from it.
Here’s what happens in some churches. Someone volunteers to be involved in something and they give it their best effort.
Someone makes an off the cuff remark about some aspect of what they have done (whether it is critical or mearly a suggestion to improve it) and it destroys them. Why? Because their value and self worth is all tied up and placed in their “ministry” (task, role, job) and not in their relationships.
Jesus was definitely more concerned about His relationships than He was about performing one more miracle. He was more concerned about His team which included His Father and the twelve than He was in feeding anymore people or raising any more from the dead.
Most people have a relationship with their revelations when what they really need is a revelation of their need for proper relationships.
We’ve had many people leave our church because we’ve had to confront their agendas and they didn’t like it. So they’ve gone down the road and taken their agenda with them to the next guy.
Parents who love their children will bring correction into their lives when needed. Friends will receive correction and praise and respond properly.
All others will run.
Jesus said it best when He said to the crowd, “Unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood you have nothing to do with me.” And then He kept going to test the level of relationship that He had with the disciples when He said, “Will you too go away?”
This is what friendship before function is and it will revolutionize the church today!