Jesus Christ said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 John 13:35By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
American King James Version×).
I was encouraged to see that 89% of respondents on the recent congregational survey either “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that “the brethren within my congregation care for me and treat me with Christian love and concern.”
Many, many very positive comments were made regarding the love and warmth our brethren believe is present within their local congregation. Rather than me “waxing eloquent”—or trying to do so—I think our members’ words will be more powerful and compelling. Please consider carefully what you might glean from a sampling of some of their comments:
“My church is small; it feels like family, much love and concern we all have for one another.”
“I love our congregation! The epitome of love and support, harmony, family and friends that are what you would expect from God’s people. What a blessing to be among them and worship our great Father!”
“I am very thankful that I have found the UCG; it is always so uplifting to come to the services. I feel that only God can help us and give the help that I need. Thank you for all you do.”
“I feel that we have a fairly close group, as it is a small congregation. We all know each other and we do work together pretty well. The pastor does a great job keeping check on his flock.”
“I feel that we have the most loving and caring congregation I have ever attended. The main reason is because our pastor and his wife are so caring and loving.”
“After the breakup of 2010 we have become a close church family. I know within my heart the brethren care for me, and they all know I care for them. When one of the brethren is sick, or is going through a trial, we feel the pain with them. I believe God is more concerned about our spiritual life than our physical life.”
“I have known most of our older members for over 42 years, and we have a good crop of young serving members as well. We all have compassion to help and serve each other and all who need it. For those who become sick, we have a program called the Food Train where we sign up to deliver food to those who need it, and help for whatever needs to be done. We have a loving and caring church family.”
“We are a very small closely-knit group, mainly consisting of brethren who have been in the church a very long time. We feel very connected and have a long history. We enjoy the time we have afterwards to go out to eat and continue our conversations. We also enjoy our new attendees and any visitors that may pass through our area.”
It is very heartwarming to have so many very positive comments regarding the love and warmth of our brethren in various congregations, small and large. Again, this is just a rather small sampling of the positive comments we received.
One of the goals I have established for MMS is directly tied into this area. It is:
Member engagement: Encourage all pastors to be helpers of our members’ joy, and to involve all members in service wherever possible. Encourage church congregations around the world to become more warm and inviting to new attendees.
Evidently, many congregations have been doing a fine job of welcoming newcomers. Consider these comments:
“From the first time we attended this congregation, I felt love and excitement that had been missing in my previous group. I was excited about returning the next Sabbath. My Christian faith has grown because of sermons and friendships.”
“Since I visited the congregation for the first time 2 years ago, I have felt the Christian love and concern that was lacking in another Church of God group I was a member of for years. All the live messages given by dedicated brothers in the faith are guided to strengthen our conversion and encourage the love and obedience our Lord deserves!”
“My daughter and I have been attending UCG for the last 6 months after attending another Church of God group. Since being back, we have been treated with the spiritual love of our church family and made to feel like we have always been a part of that family!!”
“We have been in this congregation a little over a year; the atmosphere and fellowship and just everything about this congregation is wonderful. The minister, elders, deacons, deaconesses and all the members are so caring and show such outgoing concern.”
“I am a transplant to this congregation, and I feel that the other ladies have been welcoming and interested in me, and I’m very involved in socials and hall set-up.”
“Our congregation is very outgoing and genuinely concerned about everybody. Visitors are met and greeted as soon as they walk in the door. :) They are made to feel welcome and invited to come back.”
“Being a newcomer, I found everyone to be very welcoming.”
Although this goal is tied to new attendees, obviously we want our congregations to be warm and loving to everyone. Most brethren do feel warmth and love from their fellow brethren. However, there were some who gave a more mixed review. Here are some representative comments of those who fell in that category:
“The reason I did not rate ‘completely agree’ that the environment of my congregation promotes personal and spiritual growth is because while this church is warm and friendly to the members of the congregation, the members are rather standoffish and cold-shouldered to new members or members of other congregations. While the congregation appears to have improved over the past decade, the cold reputation does linger with our guests.”
“Most of the brethren are kind, caring, respectful, and will go out of their way to help one another. There are always the few who seem to always be complaining. Thankfully, very few.”
“I have been in the Church 41 years. People are kind and warm but I feel like there has been a great change in people’s attitude towards serving and helping. It’s always the same people behind the scenes making it possible to have services and activities. I would like to see a positive change in this area. I love this church and plan to be here until the end, God willing.”
“Although I find my congregation to be warm and friendly, I find that most of the members are too busy to reach out to one another outside of the Sabbath. Most will wonder where someone is when they aren’t at church, but only a few will take the time to call. I think the members try to be friendly and helpful, but do very little to build the body of Christ outside of Sabbath services.”
“As in most congregations, we have very loving church members and others who are too concerned with church doctrine (which is important) but lose sight of loving your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to be like Christ, who was patient, loving, and fought to keep His flock together. Some of our elders and other church members don’t seem to have that desire. As we’re all human, we need to all strive to be more like Christ, not the Pharisees.”
“Even though we are all Christians and do care for one another, there’s a general lack of awareness of what’s going on in other people’s lives and also a lack of real genuine connection most of the time. I think the brethren care about me personally and pray for me, as well. I just think that when we are together that there’s much more we could do to get to know and come to love one another more perfectly.”
“The environment my local congregation has created has allowed for and facilitated growth of God’s Holy Spirit within me that I cannot begin to thank God enough for. I’m grateful for our organization and the offensive stance we’ve taken in preaching the gospel and preparing a people. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. That being said, I know some individuals in certain congregations don’t feel as I do and feel as if they’ve been given a back seat. I’m not sure if those people need to fix their mindsets or if their claims are founded, but either way I’d love to know ways to help them because everyone should be as blessed as I am in their home congregations within this awesome organization.”
I greatly appreciate our brethren sharing with us their comments and perceptions. I believe most people understand that we are all “wired” a bit differently and our upbringing, our personality, our temperament, and environment have a huge impact on our perception of many things, including whether or not we feel love and warmth from our brethren in Christ. These same factors also influence our capability to express and show love and warmth to others.
Let us all practice the weightier matters of the law—judgment, mercy and faith—all tempered with our love for God and one another.
As a disciple of Jesus Christ, let your light shine as one who is known by the genuine love expressed and displayed toward one another.
Wishing you all a very inspiring and uplifting Sabbath!