the weblog of Alan Knox

Considering Mutuality – Implications for ‘Non-Leaders’

Posted by on Dec 22, 2009 in community, discipleship, edification, elders, fellowship, gathering, love, members, office, service | 9 comments

So far in this series, I’ve introduced the topic of mutuality (“Considering Mutuality – Introduction“), contrasted mutuality with both individualism and collectivism (“Considering Mutuality – Individualism and Collectivism“), demonstrated that the concept of mutuality is prevalent in the New Testament (“Considering Mutuality – Where in Scripture?“), and explored the scriptural connection between mutuality and maturity for believers (“Considering Mutuality – And Maturity?“). Finally, in my previous post in this series, I discussed some of the implications of living mutually interdependent lives for leaders among the church (“Considering Mutuality – Implications for leaders”).

There are many, many among the church who desire to live mutually interdependent relationships with other believers, and who recognize the importance of these relationships for the maturity of the church. However, these people are not considered “leaders” among the church. They are not elders, or deacons, or pastors, or teachers, or whatever other titles the church may use to recognize leaders. What do these people do? Is it hopeless? Must they “leave their church” in order to find and nurture these kinds of mutually interdependent relationships?

The simple answers are: No, it is not hopeless, and no, they do not have to “leave their church” in order to live mutually with one another.

However, they many need to become leaders. What?!?!? Am I saying that people will need to become elders or pastors for their church in order to seek and see these mutual relationships? No. That’s not what I said.

Instead, I said that they may need to become leaders… meaning, they may need to lead others in forming mutually interdependent relationships. They may need to become the examples that others will need in order to recognize the importance of mutuality.

I get calls and emails from believers all the time. I meet with people for lunch. And, eventually, a question like this comes up: “But, how do I begin to form and live in this kind of relationship with others when our church and church leaders don’t seem interested? Should I leave my church?”

I have never suggested that someone “leave their church” for this reason. Instead, I encourage people to begin forming and living in relationships with those people who are already in their lives. They may know these people through church organizations, work, neighborhoods, etc. Eat together. Serve together. Get together. Play games together. Go to movies together. Help one another.

Invite your church leaders to your house and spend time with them outside of the “formal programs” of the church. Relate to them as brother and sister. Ask them about their problems and concerns and hopes and struggles etc.

In other words, if you want live mutually with others, then you may need to “lead” in this type of relationship. Share your life with others and provide opportunities for others to share their lives with you. And… be PATIENT! People do not naturally think mutually. You may need to listen to others for months, years, decades before they start listening to you. You may need to care for others for a long time before they start caring for you.

But, that’s okay… even though it is very difficult. The goal of mutuality and maturity in Christ is worth the hard work… and it IS hard work. In fact, once there is a group of people living mutually with one another, the hard work remains.

But, mutuality and maturity are worth the hard work. And, remember, you are never working along. In fact, you are never working at all… you are simply allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you doing the work that he already wants to do.


9 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-22-2009

    Alan,

    Wise and practical advise!

  2. 12-22-2009

    Alan,

    I can really relate to this post as one “who desires to live mutually interdependent relationships with other believers.” We finally started a small group in our home this past January. I had spent months talking with the “pastor” and elders at our church about the need for small group interaction.

    The pastor had nothing against us opening our home but would not allow us to make a church wide announcement or for me to do a teaching about “one another” ministry as part of the church. I am not in official leadership. It was a very frustrating time for me. I did not want to go against the wishes of leadership, but felt I had to do what the Lord was leading us to do.

    We opened our home, and personally invited people from our church and other friends. We invited leadership; one elder came for the first meeting and never came back. For about a month I led some bible study on “one another” ministry, centered around Heb 10:24, 25.

    We met every Thursday in our home. It was amazing the group of people the Lord brought. Fast forward almost 12 months later and we have a group of 40 plus men, women and children who meet for mutual edification, bible study and fellowship. We always share a meal together.

    Now we rotate homes, we gather at various other times, including most Sunday afternoons at a local park for volley ball, frisbee, fellowship, etc.

    So I said all of that to encourage others to step out and open their homes and practice being a servant. It has changed my life. I didn’t realize how selfish I had been in the past. There are times when we are tired and don’t feel like getting our house ready, but it is always a blessing. I have testimony after testimony of what God is doing to affect lives and how He is teaching us to live lives of mutual interdependency and community.

    Your blog has given me a lot of direction and encouragement during this journey!

  3. 12-22-2009

    Wes,

    Thanks!

    Jack,

    Thanks for a great testimony! I hope you publish some of your stories.

    -Alan

  4. 12-22-2009

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying that I shouldn’t leave my church because no one there is being a friend to me (as opposed to merely a friendly acquaintance). Rather, I should take the initiative to be a friend to others. Of course, I agree. But what a sad state of affairs! All you’ve described is genuine friendship. Even we Christians are so selfish we don’t know how to simply be a friend without thinking we must learn how to do some sort of ground-breaking, mysterious, Spirit-filled ministry. ::facepalm::

  5. 12-22-2009

    Mark,

    Yeah, I understand. We should all get this naturally, or super-naturally. But, even those of us who have thought through these issues and understand the importance of mutual relationships need to be reminded occasionally, because so much in us and in our culture works against those kinds of relationships.

    -Alan

  6. 12-23-2009

    This is really what the Body of Christ is all about and it is going to be the key to renewal for the Body around the world. The other day I was speaking in a small church in north Louisiana. Before the service, an older lady began a conversation with me and said “My son’s wife left him yesterday….” Amazed at her candor with me, a perfect stranger, I tried to listen and sympathize. She then apologized for “dumping” on me. I thought her willingness to share was really the only real act of the Body I saw that whole morning. Churches have “services” but mutual, organic body-life as practiced in the New Testament is found in people “dumping” and other listening. Lord, bring us to this kind of brokenness!

  7. 12-23-2009

    Steven,

    I wonder if the “older lady” would have felt safe enough to share with candor with the people who are part of that church? Unfortunately, many Christians feel safer sharing with strangers.

    -Alan

  8. 2-7-2013

    Dear Alan. This is the most important article I’ve read so far this year. Having recently relocated I am in an area where I am frustrated by the lack of mutuality. Yet this piece smacks me upside the head and reminds me that the onus is on me to be the change I want to see, however challenging that may be. Bless you for challenging and encouraging words

  9. 2-7-2013

    Christopher,

    Thank you for your comment and your kind words, both here and on twitter. Yes, it can definitely be challenging.

    -Alan