"Relate – have conversations after church; take people out to lunch during the week; exercise hospitality by inviting people to your home for a meal; take an interest in people, and be open to answering their questions about you; offer to read a book with a younger Christian man; offer to have someone accompany you for conversation as you run errands. Give people a relational context in which they can develop love and trust for you as a fellow Christian (pg. 46 of The Deliberate Church).”
If you're anything like me you have read this kind of thing in a book and thought, "Well, of course. This is what a group of believers should do as they live in community with one another." Well, guess what...CHBC actually does this. Actually Waukee Baptist Church (in Waukee, IA) does this too. But CHBC is a little different. It is difficult to figure out etiquette because folks are so hospitable around here. People just bring you right into their homes. I'm not saying that if you are ever here that you should just "walk in" to their homes, but this is really the kind of feel that exists out here as an intern.
We are seriously in the pastors houses all the time. Not to mention that we are constantly invited to homes, lunches, etc. with the members in the congregation. In Iowa I thought that we'd be annoying if we were just sitting around in people's homes uninvited...but these guys make you feel like it's cool to just invite yourself in. Certainly there are limits; however, Michael Lawrence put it like this to the interns, "We are running a race...You are more than welcome to come and run along side us, but don't just sit at home and expect us to pull you along...but you are invited to run with us." That basically means that they totally meant the quote above. Crazy! It's actually really humbling. There are rules of etiquette, but the etiquette is basically: "invite yourself over...and if we say no, that means no...but most of the time you'll be welcomed to come in and be around them and the others that are there." I don't think I've been encouraged to just invite myself over to someone's place in my life.
It's really amazing! Something that is as simple as the quote above is actually practiced out here. From an intern's perspective how most folks view a cell phone is how the Mark views his home study (he doesn't have one). Kind of a cool twist against the culture.
Get rid of your cell phones, and open up your homes... Let people into your lives... There's a profound thought!
Anyhow, that's the first apparent observation I've learned from at CHBC so far. Basically, it is a great model of how people in a church are to love one another...founded on a commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ.