Somewhere in the history of the American church the sense of community was lost to believers. Perhaps community was lost because of our growing affluence which made it possible “to do it by ourselves.” Certainly community was lost in response to the Western democratic emphasis on autonomy and personal independence.
When this concept of “shared lives” became a mystery to us, we began to exist as individuals with arbitrary commitments to a body of believers.
The church has little experiential knowledge of that beautiful household described in Ephesians 2:17 (RSV):
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Not only are the iron gates closed to those standing in the darkness waiting for an invitation, but within the household of faith, we have barricaded our lives from one another. The daily efforts—gardening, picking beans, spraying bugs, tending broken knees, as well as the celebration of God’s indwelling Spirit—become opportunities lost to us. We no longer know how to coexist in the seasons of one another’s lives.
Consequently, newborn babes in Christ often starve if they can’t find a spiritual household with an open door and provision of the sweet warm milk and protein-rich meat of the Word. Slightly muddled, not sure what we are about, we allow the infant believer to fend for himself or herself.
Karen Mains has long had an interest in Christian hospitality and is the author of the best-selling book, Open Heart, Open Home.
An award-winning author of several other books, Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
For decades, Karen Mains and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. The are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and churches at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
In addition, pastors will find special resources to help them create effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.