Together to gather

Who is church for? Who is welcome? Who is invited to belong?Life is Better Together

What if we were committed to inviting others into the presence of God. What if we took the reconciliation of God seriously. As a community it is our job to be real and to demonstrate what this life-in-kingdom looks and feels like:

In the words we use. That we refuse to gossip and slander others. We encourage and when needed confront. In the truth we tell and the lies we refuse to tell.

And in the compassion and love we show. That we demonstrate our allegiance to Jesus by the way we act like him. In the way we accept and welcome outcasts. How we care for those that society treats as the least and the last.

Who will you invite?

The following are some helpful ideas on how to invite from James Bryan Smith’s book, The Good and Beautiful Community:

1. Pray – ask God to send someone, to bring them to mind. It may be a stranger you are about to meet in a supermarket or a friend you’ve not sen for ages on the street. Maybe someone on your heart right now. Pray for an opportunity.

2. Watch – look out for God to answer the prayer. Look with eyes of compassion. Look for opportunities. Look for divine appointments.

3. Reach out – Invite them for coffee or ask non-threatening, non-coercive questions, like “what’s going on in your life at the moment”. This is not a PR or marketing exercise. Don;t treat people as a ‘project’. Make a ‘friend’. This is simply reaching out to another traveller and asking them how things are going.

4. Listen – take time to hear what they are really saying. What is going on in their life. What are their hopes and dream, their struggles and hassles. To listen is to show love.

5. Connect – ask yourself, “how does their situation connect with what you know about Jesus?” Where is there hope in their life? Try to connect their life with the good news that you know, without preaching. Without manipulation.

6. Share – at some point, tell them your story. Where do you find hope? Share the hope you have with grace and gentleness. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’ and shouldn’t argue. Be open and honest about the life you have found in Jesus that you now live. Tell your story. Let them see how you live as a follower of Jesus.

7. Invite – let them know that church is for people like them. That they are welcome at our Sunday Morning Gathering. However, it may be that coming on a Sunday is way too religious or churchy. Invite them to a social gathering or a community project or a life group.

Who will you invite?

The following is the full talk from our Sunday Morning Gathering on 22nd Sept 2013:

Reconciliation – Better or Bitter together?

In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 we read:

Life is Better TogetherThe old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. (The Message version)


Who is God encouraging you to be reconciled with?

Who are you encouraging to be reconciled to God?

Listen to the full talk from Sunday’s sermon on reconciliation “Better or bitter together?” below:

Bitter or better together?

“Christians in community are to never give up on one another, never give up on a relationship, and never write off another believer. We must never tire of forgiving (and repenting!) and seeking to repair our relationships. In Matthew 5:23–26, [Jesus] tells us we should go to someone if we know they have something against us. In Matthew 18:15–20 [Jesus] says we should approach someone if we have something against them.

In short, if any relationship has cooled off or has weakened in any way, it is always your move. It doesn’t matter “who started it:” God always holds you responsible to reach out to repair a tattered relationship.

A Christian is responsible to begin the process of reconciliation, regardless of how the distance or the alienation began.

-Dr Tim Keller

This extract comes from probably the most helpful article I’ve (Nick) read on reconciliation. This article is referenced in our Sunday Morning Gathering talk for 15th September 2013. For the full article visit here.

The antidote to loneliness

All the lonely people, Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people, Where do they all belong?

Life is Better Together

All of us experience loneliness from time to time, but for many loneliness has become a chronic problem. How do we as the church, bring hope and friendship to those who are isolated in our own midst? How do we belong to one another?

There’s a lot in the Bible about how life is ‘better together’ and what that looks and feels like. What real life with real people should be like. In fact Paul and others, who were helping the first churches to be communities that belonged to each other, wrote a whole load of statements and commands that these young churches were to live out. These are not things you can simply talk about, these are actions and expectations of those who follow Jesus:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5:16)

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.  (Galatians 6:2)

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)

So, Coventry Vineyard, how are you doing on these? Are you creating somewhere for the lonely to belong? Who will you call or meet up with this week and ask, “How are you doing, really?”

Life is Better Together

Life is Better TogetherPeople’s most basic need in life is relationship. People connected to other people thrive and grow, and those not connected wither and die. It is a medical fact, for example, that from infancy to old age, health depends on the amount of social connection people have… At the emotional level, connection is the sustaining factor for the psyche, the heart, and the spirit. Virtually every emotional and psychological problem, from addictions to depression, has alienation or emotional isolation at its core or close to it. Recovery from these problems always involves helping people to get more connected to each other at deeper and healthier levels than they are.

-Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Church has been described as “a collection of people who belong to one another”. At Coventry Vineyard we are starting a new series, looking at what “belonging’ really looks and feels like. How life is “Better Together”.

Click on the link to hear the talk from our Sunday Morning Gathering on 1st September 2013