Church is dismissed and the rustling starts. Do you quietly sneak out the back doors of the sanctuary? Or do you stick around, finding ways to soak up the richness of the diversity of the body of Christ?
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body,” Paul reminds us (1 Corinthians 12:13a). As members of the body of Christ, we need one another (1 Corinthians 12:21-26).
Even so, we don’t always remember to interact with those different from us. Maybe it is time to reach out and see what wonders God will work in their lives and ours.
1. Get to know people in need
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
Part of our calling as Christians is to care for those in need—be it financial, physical, emotional, or spiritual. We can start by looking over the church prayer list, or remembering to ask, “how can I pray for you?” in conversations. Perhaps we can be a prayer partner for someone who is struggling at their new job, or offer to accompany someone to their medical appointments.
More important than a one-time offer of help, is the willingness to walk faithfully with our brother or sister in Christ, journeying together through what ups and downs may come our way.
2. Invest in the little ones
Jesus told his arguing disciples, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me” (Luke 9:48).
Do we welcome the children who come to our church? Do we even know their names? Or do we consider them noisy nuisances that need to be shuffled off to Sunday school so they don’t get in the way?
Maybe we could learn the names of two or three children at church, look out for them to say “hi” on Sundays, and ask how their week went.
As we build these relationships and get to know their families, we may even offer to take the children on a Saturday outing. And perhaps one day, we may be privileged to hear them share how God has worked in their hearts.
3. Relate to the elderly
“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31)
It is often easier to surround ourselves with peers than to reach across age divides and befriend someone our parents’ or grandparents’ age. Try asking questions about their faith journey, or even what things were like when they were young.
For us, their rich experiences can offer us a surprising perspective. For older people, it can be meaningful to have a younger friend, especially if they don’t have family close by.
4. Connect with the family-less
“God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6), and one of the ways He does so is through the church.
For those of us in a family—whether we live with parents, are married, or are raising children of our own—let’s invite others into our home.
Is anyone here on their own for work? Are there any students far from home? Do we have any single friends, young or old? Let’s invite them over for a family dinner. Get together for holidays. Ask them to join family outings.
While there can be wonderful freedom and flexibility for those living on their own, it’s important to be remembered and invited to the family table. It’s a simple way to ensure that everyone in the body is cared for.
5. Plug into growing families
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16)
Whether you’re single, an empty nester, or married without children, it would be worthwhile getting to know a growing family. To parents, you might be able to offer a sympathetic ear and supporting prayers on those days when they’re going through challenges. To children, your strengths and passions can inspire and encourage them in unique ways.
In addition to getting involved with family ministries, we can start striking up conversations with families after church, or sitting by them during fellowship gatherings and potlucks.
God brought together diverse brothers and sisters to be a part of His church. We’re missing out if we only hang out with people like us. Let’s step out and begin building relationships with more of our brothers and sisters. We will find that they can enrich our lives in ways we never expected!