It has been a while since I sent out a synopsis of some of the chapters in the book I am working on, “Hurdling the Barriers” to church health and growth. As i was going back to see where I left off, I realized that I had missed one of the most important barriers that the church must hurdle. This is a synopsis of Chapter 4, “Hurdling the Barrier of Lost Love for Others.”
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. I won’t go into all the details now, but In my effort to recast a unique vision for the campus church, I came under attack by some of our church leaders. 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 in Portsmouth had been through a lot. The church had experienced a significant loss of its members. One parishioner described it as the doom days. They were running in the red and bleeding cash at a rate that, 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.
Yes, like us, this small congregation in Portsmouth was also hurting. Yet, this congregation was very special. They had a God given love for one another. And, in a time when Chris and I 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.
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 will look into this particular command, the heart of a congregation that displays it, what it looks like and what to do if the church experiences the barrier of a lost love for one another.