n Part One I pointed out that we were called by God to serve, not huddle in a building somewhere. I suggested some avenues of service each of us could choose to do on an individual level. I hope it helped to show that we have neglected to do good to all and that this will prompt each of us to find our own area of service.
In Part Two, I will suggest what we can do together, as a group.
It is good when God's people come together for mutual encouragement, friendship and love. This can be done anywhere and at any time, by mutual agreement. Whatever is best for everyone.
In Seattle we meet in different homes in the area. Sometimes we meet on Sunday morning, but sometimes the evening is more convenient. We have met on Saturday and been joined by people from other parts of our state.
We meet together during the week. This is a good time to invite people who have never studied to come and open the Bible with us. People in or out of a denomination would be more inclined to join us on a weeknight as opposed to a Sunday. The topic of study on these nights is always by mutual agreement. If someone has a specific question, that is what we study. We all look at it together and each of us is encouraged to tell what he or she understands the scripture to say. What an encouragement to study the Bible on our own!
Because of work and school schedules in our group it is not always convenient for all of us to get together at the same time. We may get together in the north end of the city on one night and in the south end on another. We are fortunate to have a group that is willing to stand up and lead others on a personal level. We do not "boss" each other but we do lead.
These gatherings are always optional as far as attendance is concerned. No one is ever "put down" because he or she does not come. These are for our benefit. We do not measure anyone's spiritual level by how often they come to "our" gathering. These gatherings are such a joy that we all look forward to being together as often as possible.
These are some ideas of things we can do together, not out of necessity but out of freedom.
Talk to one another. We can encourage each other so much with words and really get to know each others personalities and needs. We previously spent so much time looking at the back of others heads, we forgot how to really talk to each other.
Sing together. Even if it sometimes sounds like a bunch of squalling cats it is great to sing together. Heartfelt praise to God does not have to be harmonious or even on key.
Study together. Bible study is very important and we can learn so much from studying together. For many years we have been guilty of spending much time in study and little time in service, but open study of what the Bible says should spur us on to serve one another and not just be an intellectual exercise in Bible gymnastics.
Share each others needs. Pray for people who have needs. If it is a financial need that you know of, tell others about it so that they can help, too. Pass the hat if the need arises or circumstances warrant it.
Pray together. Pray for one another and the world in general. Ask God to show you where you can best serve; but you had better mean it because He will answer.
Eat together. Potlucks are always popular. We like to pack a picnic lunch to share and go to the park in nice weather. We spend the whole day in fellowship and Bible study.
Take trips together. We like to go sightseeing or to the mountains for a day of fellowship. You can camp, fish, river raft, hike, etc. How inspiring it is to sing praises to God in the open air of his creation!
Walk together. Get your exercise and edify one another at the same time.
Listen to tapes together. Sometimes it is good to listen to a presentation by a talented speaker. I suggest Truth and Freedom Forum tapes for example.
Read and discuss books by spiritually minded people. Read articles by people who see things in ways you may never have seen them before.
Some may find time in the morning before work or school to get together. It is a good time for prayer or Bible reading and discussion together.
Homemakers can come together in a home. This is a good opportunity to invite women in the neighborhood who might like to study the Bible. Approach this as a leader and not as a know-it-all authority of the block. Women of all denominations love to get together with other women. Use this opportunity for an open and honest examination of what the Bible says in a spirit of love and mutual learning.
Those with children may want to get together and teach their children. You can invite other children from the neighborhood to join you. This would give mothers and fathers a break for an hour or two, for which they will bless you. The children will be learning about God which will make them better neighbors as well. Their parents may become interested in God when they see your personal dedication.
Activities can be planned for the kids of whatever age. May I make some suggestions?
I remember going to retirement homes with a group of pre-teens and teens to sing songs to the shut-ins. Call a nursing center and see if they will allow you to bring a group.
Maybe your group of kids can "adopt" a grandmother or grandfather. Young people and the elderly need one another. Contact a nursing center near you and ask if it is possible to bring your kids over to get to know these people.
Teens can get together for mutual encouragement and friendship. One teen could lead a discussion of a Bible subject the teens themselves have decided upon. This would be an opportunity for them to invite their friends from school who would never set foot inside a "church building", but would come to a friend's house.
College students could lead a group in the dorm. This would be a good opportunity to talk to other students about Jesus Christ.
Call those who do not get around as well as they would like. We in Washington are spread out all over the state. We get together over the phone. You can study the Bible or just encourage each other.
Write letters. We all need encouragement. Take advantage of the postal service. If you want to encourage other people who may have no ()ne near to talk to about your mutual interests, write them. Charles will be happy to give you names of contact people all over the country.
Be creative in thinking of ways to encourage each other, from quilting bees to chili feeds. We are a family. Treat one another like families are supposed to treat one another.
Our walk with God does not consist entirely of meeting together and being lectured. Our walk with God is service to one another and to the lost and the hurting world Christ died for. Don't let your meeting together become the end or all of your walk, but rather the beginning of your service to others.