Pastoral Perspectives

Reach Out and Touch

A few years ago, I had an interesting conversation with a young person. As we talked, she shared that her friend has been bringing her to another church and she felt comfortable there. Out of curiosity, I chatted with her more about why she felt comfortable over at the other church – was it their service, was it their programs?

I was kind of expecting her to share that their youth programs were more exciting or perhaps it was their worship services that were more upbeat. However, she shared honestly that the adults in the other church made her feel welcome and she experienced the warmth and fellowship over there – something she felt lacking in some churches!

On another occasion, a friend shared that the church he was in seemed to be a bit ‘cold’. This was despite him being there in his church for a few years! The person felt that there hasn’t been any real ‘fellowship’ beyond the usual Sunday handshakes and greetings the people do faithfully each Sunday, week in and week out!

What about our church here in True Way? Are there some people whom we do not know who may be feeling the lack of warmth or perhaps feeling somewhat left out in our church?

As a church community, it is a good thing to build intentional relationships with one another. We need to be authentic and to be real with one another. One possible obstacle why people are less authentic with one another is because we feel vulnerable with sharing our lives, our pain, our joys and our struggles. However, it is in sharing our lives that we can see the church as it is – a place where believers come together – not as perfect people but as sinners redeemed and saved by grace!

I am reminded of Paul’s encouragement to fellow Christians in Corinth when he tells them, 3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, we read how Paul sees himself ministering to the early churches when he tells them: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

Paul sees himself not only sharing and encouraging others with the gospel but also sharing his life – his sufferings in prison, his struggles in ministry, his health and he would constantly ask for prayer support. Likewise, he would frequently ask his fellow brothers and sisters to send him updates about themselves so that he too can pray with them (1Thess 3:6-10). 

When we look at True Way, a place where we call our home, our community, have we been like Paul encouraging others with the gospel? Have we been sharing our lives with one another? Have we gone beyond just shaking the hands with someone but really sitting down to talk and get to know more about the person?

Or have we been unintentionally neglecting others because we feel comfortable within our close group of friends? It will be really sad if this slowly becomes a ‘culture’ here in True Way or in any church.

Having joined our True Way family since last November, I must say that I have enjoyed the warm welcome and fellowship of the community here. And I see this happening every Sunday in the event hall when the service ends. I see new friends and visitors being welcomed in the service and we continue our conversations with them in the cosy corner over light refreshments. But besides reaching out to new friends and visitors, it’s always encouraging to continue reaching out to those among us – both young and old here in our church community.

Where do we start? Perhaps we can start by asking ourselves this question – “What difference would it make, if I were to pray before I come to church each Sunday?”

What do I mean?

Each Sunday, we come to church looking forward to worship God, to learn from His Word and to fellowship with our fellow brothers and sisters. Some of us are involved in various ministries and we go about serving the Lord with the gifts and talents that the Lord has given us.

Besides asking the Lord to prepare our hearts to worship Him, we can also ask the Lord to prepare and lead us to someone who might need a word of encouragement.

And instead of sitting at our usual corner with our usual friends, we can intentionally sit with someone whom we are not so familiar with and initiate a conversation with them. After service, we can continue our conversations with them – asking them about their week, share one take home point from the sermon, and offer to pray with them.

As we do this, we are asking the Lord to use us to bless someone. We trust the Holy Spirit’s work in us, that as He empowers us to reach out to people, He will use us to encourage people – when we share our lives and our stories of God’s faithfulness.

This reminds me of the song, Reach Out and Touch by Diana Ross, which says “Take a little time out of your busy day to give encouragement to someone who’s lost the way …”

“Take a little time out of your busy day
To give encouragement
To someone who’s lost the way
(Just try)
Or would I be talking to a stone
If I asked you
To share a problem that’s not your own
We can change things if we start giving
Why don’t you

Reach out and touch
Somebody’s hand
Make this world a better place
If you can
Reach out and touch
Somebody’s hand
Make this world a better place
If you can”

– Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand) by Diana Ross

Can I encourage each of us to reach out and get to know someone whom you may not know very well over the next few weeks? It might be awkward for a start to go up to someone and say hello and strike up a conversation but hey let’s start somewhere and it could be the beginning of a warm and beautiful friendship! Let God surprise you with what He can do through you!

May our God of Love enable our family in True Way to build up, encourage and share our lives with one another with the love that He gives us. Amen!