September 8th Faith Fellowship’s family paraded around 62 flags representing the nations who had come to gather in worship. Three more countries had representatives but we didn’t have their flags – yet. We talked about courage – the courage of God for entrusting less than perfect people with a message of hope for the nations. We talked about the courage we needed to share that hope through the life and message we are called to live in the world in which God placed us.
Daniel Coyle, in his book, The Culture Code (The secrets of highly successful groups), states that “when you ask people inside highly successful groups to describe their relationship with one another, they all tend to choose the same word. This word is not friends or team or tribe or any other equally plausible term. The word they use is family. What’s more, they tend to describe the feeling of those relationships in the same way.” (pp. 6-7)
How do you know you’re a family if you’re not part of the same birth group? What characteristics are we striving for in a church family made up of diverse cultures, personalities, socio-economic levels, and professions?
Coyle says he found the same characteristics, whether he studied a special-ops military unit, an inner-city school, a professional basketball team, a movie studio, a comedy troupe, a gang of jewel thieves, and others who had proved successful. He says that there is an energy, an individualization and a future orientation. What he means is that “members invest in the exchange that is occurring; “they treat the person as unique and valued”; and “they signal the relationship will continue.” (p. 11)
What makes those of us in a church different than a gang, a team, or a group that has been drawn together for a common cause or goal? Certainly more than something psychological or experiential -although it could easily remain that way if we don’t understand the work of the Spirit, the Word and the Body.
Coyle says “when I visited these groups, I noticed a pattern of interaction. The pattern was located not in the big things but in little moments of social connection. These interactions were consistent whether the group was a military unit or a movie studio or an inner-city school.” (p. 7)
He made a list:
Close physical proximity, often in circles – (sounds like our small groups)
Profuse amounts of eye contact
Physical touch (handshakes, fist bumps, hugs) – sound familiar?
Lots of short, energetic exchanges (no long speeches) – after the service, lunches
High levels of mixing; everyone talks to everyone
Lots of questions
Intensive, active listening
Small, attentive courtesies (thank-yous, opening doors, etc.)
All this only makes us feel safe as a group and makes us feel like we might be wanted and maybe even belong somewhere. The reality is that we have a common Spirit drawing us into one family; we have a common Lord who has paid the price for our sin and removed all the barriers that may have divided us; we have a common Father who created us for everlasting relationship with himself. Knowing this, we embrace each other, we flow into small groups for disciple making, and we pray earnestly for each other as we face our own brokenness in a broken world. No matter who you are or where you come from, you are welcome in Faith’s family.
Always remember: you are loved more than you could ask or imagine. Pastor Jack