Monday, November 14, 2011

When the Church was a Family

Hoar frost at sunrise over the Yukon (by Keith Ramos)

Photo by Keith Ramos
A couple of years ago I read a book by Dr. Joseph Hellerman titled "When the Church was a Family". The premise behind the book was that during the early church period, the church functioned as an actual family, not just a theoretical family (like the way we casually throw around the term "brothers and sisters in Christ"). The book was a good confirmation for me as to what I had been feeling for years. Namely that the church isn't something that we go is something that we are! The church that I had the privilege of pastoring in Louisiana gave me my first ever picture of what that could really look like. Believers were loving and serving each other. Genuine authenticity, and transparency between Christians, replaced the fake Sunday morning smile when asked "How are you doing?".

Since coming to Galena I've seen Galena Bible Church make the subtle shift from "friendly church" to "family". I don't think there are many churches that fit under the category of "friendly church". Even fewer would I classify as "family" and so I am so blessed to be a part of one that I really believe is working together as a family. Does this mean that we have arrived? Absolutely not! I don't want to be saying any of this as if I am bragging, because NONE of it is my fault. God's been moving in people's hearts and we've just been trying to keep up with His leadership. But what a unique place to be in the middle of nowhere with the potential to reach into surrounding villages with the Gospel! One quote from Hellerman's book that stood out to me was that "everything we do in church is a reflection of what we theologically believe, whether we are consciously aware of it or not." In other words, it's not what we say we believe that makes us who we are, it is how we live that shows what we believe. Later in the book he writes about the early church and says "People did not convert to Christianity solely because of what the early Christians believed. They converted because of the way in which the early Christians behaved." Kind of like what James said that "Faith without works is dead". It's hard for me to communicate what I'm seeing because it is so close to me, but I hope you are getting a picture of what God is doing. And I pray that maybe through the Galena Bible Church God would awaken a real revival in other Churches, where the world would know that we are his disciples by how we love one another.

           I have this fresh on my mind because that's what has taken up my time/what we have experienced since my last blog post. ChangePoint Church in Anchorage sent out one of two teams that will be here in November. Three guys came out to build a better connection between the teens of GILA and the teens of ChangePoint that have served at the Bible Camp during the Summer. They brought paper plates, bowls, and utensils that they had gathered from their students, and then served in whatever way we had need. They shoveled a lot of snow while they were here, and spent the rest of the time encouraging dorm staff, and the SEND Missionaries here in Galena. The inter-connectivity that God is building between churches is amazing to watch.

          GBC kicked off our first youth group two weeks ago. We had 16 teens from the community and GILA! 13 girls and 3 guys. The girls are doing a book study called "Lies young women believe", and the guys are doing a study by Francis Chan called "Courage". Many of the teens that came profess to have made a decision to follow Christ, but cannot tell you what that means. We are excited to begin to share the Gospel with these teens in a clear way and to disciple them to be who God has made them to be.

          Things you can be praying for:
  • GBC Youth Group meets tomorrow night. Pray that teens will come and that we will be able to clearly teach them. 
  • ChangePoint is sending another team this weekend to complete the bathroom project and install a kitchenette in the church office. Pray for safe travel, and that our building materials will be able to make the freight flight on time. 
  • Pray that the SEND Missionaries would continue to be encouraged as they transition into bush life. As the days get shorter (Sun up at 10:30 and dark by 4:30 now) and colder (-22F currently) it is easy for cabin fever to set in and discouragement to disrupt effectiveness, especially for Missionary wives.
  • The SEND Plane may be making its way out here this week or the next. Pray for safety for the pilots and clarity for us as we seek to use this tool effectively.
My supporters are always in my heart and I pray for you often. Please let me know if there is anything that we can pray for specifically.

Chris Kopp