Here is a brief synopsis of Chapter 4 of the book, “Hurdling the Barriers to Church Health and Growth.”
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34, ESV)
I remember our transition from Savannah to Portsmouth like it was yesterday. We left the church we planted in Savannah wounded and disheartened. . . . having lost our meeting space on the college campus, we needed to recast the vision of our little congregation. . . . In doing this, I came under attack by some of our church leaders, the very ones I had appointed. They disagreed with my direction and leadership. . . . this was a very difficult time for my wife and me. I ended up shutting down the little church and taking an interim pastorate.
A year later, I accepted a call to Seacoast Community Church in Portsmouth NH. . . . This little church had been through a lot. They were running in the red and without a miracle, could only guarantee keeping me on the staff for about six months. With the backdrop of this situation, we left Savannah and relocated 900 miles, wounded and hoping for a miracle.
Prior to arriving there, the church had experienced a significant loss of its members. One parishioner described it as the doom days. . . . This congregation was very special. They had a God given love for one another. In a time when we needed healing, in spite of all their dire circumstances, they embraced Chris and me and provided a healing salve of love for us as a couple. They typified the kind of love that Jesus called for in the “New Commandment,” to love one another. I am grateful to the Lord for putting us in this church at such a time.
The church in Portsmouth had hurdled the barrier of lost love for others. They obeyed the “Second Great Commandment,” which is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39, ESV) Churches that do not obey this command have a tremendous barrier to being healthy.
In this chapter, I look into this particular command to love one another, the heart of a congregation that displays it, what this love looks like in practical ways, and what to do if the church experiences the barrier of a lost love for one another.