What’s the purpose of a bridge? If you look at a definition, a bridge is a structure that carries a road, path, railroad, or canal across an obstacle like a ravine, ravine, road, or railroad. A bridge helps you get where you want to be if you are traveling. Think about bridges in your church – places which help people get from where they are to where they need to be or should be. Let’s take a look at four bridges you need to cross or to help build in order to create community for others in your church or for you to find community in your church.
- Bridge to Bible Study – As believers, our time in Bible study is our guide to get from where we are spiritually to the place where God desires for us to be. His Word is a masterplan of details with the specifics of how Jesus desires for us to grow in our relationship with Him (2 Tim. 2:15. 3:16-17). While we need to also have quiet time alone with God (Psalm 1:2), there is great purpose in being involved in a small group to grow together. Most Bible study groups have either age or some specific characteristic in common which draws people into the group. Bible study groups provide insight and feedback to further strengthen your personal Bible study. Studying the Bible together allows those who are weaker in their walks to be challenged and those who are a little ahead in Bible knowledge to act as a Priscilla and Aquila to help teach a sound biblical theology. Bible study is your bridge to spiritual growth. Even though you might find it hard to explore which Bible study class is a fit for you, it’s worth the hard part to find a place to grow. The Bible study group is also a place for people to serve. There is constantly a need for new leaders to be developed and to step in to leadership in the preschool, children, student, or adult divisions. Could you step up as a leader to help others grow in their faith development?
- Bridge to Friendship – Your Bible study group also provides another bridge, a bridge to friendship (Proverbs 17:17, Romans 12:10). One thing that draws people toward each other is realizing that others struggle with similar things in life. Sometimes one of the biggest blessings in a small group Bible study is knowing you are not alone in your struggle – to grow as a believer, to demonstrate love to your spouse, to discipline your child, to let your child go, or to be patient in your wait. If you are already in a Bible study class, always keep in mind that you need to be responsive to the new people who enter your group. While you might not “need” a new friend, the person walking in as a guest probably does. Think about how you can bridge the transition for the guest with offers to go to lunch after worship, to pray for the guest, or to introduce the guest to others you already have relationships with at church. If you are the one seeking out a new group of friends in a Bible study group, don’t sit back and wait. Initiate conversations with those already established in the class. Join the group in their activities and places of service within the church. The quicker you move from a mindset of guest to being part of the group – the quicker and easier your transition will be.
- Bridge to Accountability – While the Bible study small group provides a great place for growing in Bible knowledge and being challenged to live out your faith, there is a deeper place of accountability where closer heart friends are needed to really push you and challenge you in your personal spiritual growth (Proverbs 19:20, 27:17). If nobody has ever served in that role of accountability partner in your life, perhaps it is because you have never asked anyone to be in that role in your life. Watch those around you and seek to find that person in your church who exhibits spiritual fruit. You do not even have to be in circles of friendship with this person though during your accountability times, you will find a strong bond in Christ drawing you together. Women are the best accountability partners for women, and men are the best accountability partners for men. If you do not have an accountability partner, how can you begin to determine who that person could be for you?
- Bridge to Wisdom – When we segregate ourselves into groups by age, we fail to draw on the wisdom of those who have gone before us (Proverbs 13:20). One of the things I love about my church is the love that I see between those of all ages. I recently went out of the country on a mission trip and found out later that my 18 and 14-year-old ended up at the home of one of our senior adults on one of the Sunday afternoons when I was out of the country. If you look at the people you know at church and realize it is the people that look exactly like you, perhaps you need to branch out. Sit in a new area. Volunteer to teach babies. Do you still LOVE students even though you are a senior adult? Realize that NOT everyone LOVES students – perhaps that is a bent of your heart where God is directing you to go and serve and love students who may not have a great relationship with their own grandparents. I recently read that each student in our church needs at least five adults who know them, care about them, and can call them by name. Senior adults, how many students and children do you know? Young families, do you need to adopt a senior adult as your own family member or take your young family on a mission trip with adults. These types of moves on your part do not have to be mandated by a church program or event. Pray about how you can be more intentional about getting to know other populations within your church. Walk on over that bridge and begin to learn from other generations. If you need help reaching out to a person of a different age group in your church, your church staff can help.
A broken bridge is an obstacle. At church, we do not need any obstacles. We desire to be bridge builders or bridge repairers so that others can join us at Rocky Creek to help us minister to each other and to help us reach others in our community as we demonstrate through our bridges what Jesus is like. How will you build or cross a bridge today to build Christian community right where you are?