Recently For Every Mom featured an article by Kimberli Lira. The post, Why the Church Doesn’t Need Any More Coffee Bars, was penned by a mother of two who recently lost her husband to cancer. She explains that her husband’s two-year battle with cancer helped her to reevaluate what she thinks the church really needs and who church leaders should really be trying to impact.
Lira believes that too many churches are focusing on flashy gimmicks to get people through the doors, maybe at the expense of its people who are suffering. During her husband’s treatment, she notes:
…he never said how much he appreciated the coffee bar at the church. Never once did he say he loved the lighting in the sanctuary. He never told me how cool it was that they put a couch on the platform. He didn’t boast of the graphics and props.
Instead, what she and her husband drew strength from was what the church really should be about: Jesus.
He quoted scriptures. He reminded me of sermons we had heard. And in the middle of the night he sang songs of praise and worship to God and he spent his time praying. Because nothing a church does to strategize to bring in members helps you in the time of the storm. It is only Jesus.
While her challenge was focused mainly on church leaders, I could not help but think of how church members should be rallying to help a family like hers. The Apostle Paul gave us great direction on how to help each other in Romans 12. His instructions are not limited to times of trial, but show us how to live out our faith as we interact with other believers.
Verse 9 begins by telling us to “Let love be genuine.” A look at the Greek text tells us that ancient readers would have understood the verb here to mean “must be,” so love must be genuine is the point Paul is striving to get across. Our love must be pure, sincere and not hypocritical. A love like this is not focused on shiny objects, but instead focused on the people around us. In I Corinthians 13, Paul gives a detailed list of what this type of love should look like (patient, kind, not envious or arrogant and more).
Next we are told to “abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Paul gives us several instances of a “put off/put on” principle throughout his epistles. He instructs us to stop one way of living and instead start a new way. In this passage, Paul tells us to let go of anything displeasing to God and instead cling to what is good. When our lives are focused on staying away from sin and pursuing righteousness, we are even more capable of Paul’s next charge to believers.
Then verse 10 tells believers to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” I love this concept. We should be looking to serve one another more and more, treating our brothers and sisters in Christ just like family. This powerful lifestyle of love is exactly what families in our churches need, whether they are in crisis like Kimberli Lira or just trying to live for Christ through normal everyday life. A love like this is what makes believers stand out from the world because its focus is on others, not self. This kind of love shows up to mow the lawn when a family member faces an adverse diagnosis. This kind of love delivers a warm meal when a family has a baby. This kind of love calls us to serve the church body.
Zeal is the next characteristic we are told to adopt. “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Our excitement and passion for Christ are not things that should die off over time. Instead, we should be faithful in our service to the Lord whether we have known Him for one week or sixty years.
Paul next tells us to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” When life is going well, we can praise the Lord. When things are tough, we can wait on the Lord and His timing. In all things, however, we should be in prayer. These times of prayer remind us of how desperately we need God to intervene and how powerful He is. Whether the tribulation or the hope is yours or a friend’s, we are to be in prayer.
In verse 13 we are told to “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” This verse is exactly what the person next to you in the pew needs. We should be intricately involved in each other’s lives; helping in the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of our church family. Hospitality is not just for those who feel gifted with it, or those with big fancy houses, or those who keep an immaculate home, it is for all of us.
Kimberli Lira wrote a powerful piece for church leaders born out of years of heartache and suffering. I pray church leaders will remember her plea and focus on the people of the church more than flash. I also pray that we, the church members, will focus on serving one another and living out the commands of Romans 12. What a difference we could make in our churches today!