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Ministry of Lingering

By Stephen Powell

Sunday. It is a day that we look forward to for many reasons. We look forward to hearing the Word, singing, going to our classes, and seeing our church body, amongst other things. All of these things are important and a blessing given to us by the Lord. These are regular rhythms in our lives that shape us and aid us in the re-gospelizing that we receive every week. But, I wonder if you have ever thought about the time before and after the service as part of that rhythm and a potentially missed opportunity for you to minister and be ministered to.

I have been listening to a podcast called “You’re Not Crazy”. It is a podcast directed at pastors who want to see Gospel culture exist in their churches. This is not where your church is totally informed about the Gospel on an intellectual level, though that is important.  Instead, this idea is a culture, a pattern, an organic thing that happens between programs and ministry events. Our churches should not only preach the Gospel, but live in light of it, pursuing one another, bearing each other’s burdens, cultivating true friendship, and confessing and repenting of sin together. So, one of the areas of our culture that I would like to draw your attention to is our ministry of lingering.

At Creekside, we offer a light, snacky breakfast and wonderful coffee, roasted locally and of great quality, because we want to interact with one another. There are brand new, beautiful benches on our fellowship deck because we want you to greet someone before service, sit down, and have a moment to catch up. Would you consider, if you are able, coming early to the service so that you can have the opportunity to reconnect with members of our body and greet one another with the welcoming warmth that you have been shown in your adoption in Christ?

Further, I don’t know if you have noticed, but it is common for people to hang around after the service for thirty to forty-five minutes, sometimes an hour, talking, praying, digesting what they just heard in the Word, making appointments to grab lunch or coffee, and lots more, all in the name of Gospel community. On a very practical note, I would encourage you to not rush out the door. We all know and feel the weight of getting to the next thing. But, it may be a full week before you see your brothers and sisters again, so I would encourage you to consider ways to meet someone new, reconnect with others, and linger. This is where some really meaningful ministry is taking place and we don’t want you to miss out.

To wrap up, let me summarize the ask and give you encouragement. Here is the ask: come early and reconnect with the body, come in to worship at 10:28 (See how I snuck that in there?), and linger afterward to engage in digesting the word with others, prayer, and enjoying the community that the Lord has provided to us. Please, do not feel as if someone is trying to add something else to your plate. Rather, be encouraged to walk slowly across the room, ready to engage with other believers, come and enjoy a great cup of coffee while enjoying even greater conversation and reuniting with your brothers and sisters, and don’t rush off without spending a little time lingering with fellow Creeksiders who need you like you need them.

I am so thankful to be in this Gospel community with you. I’ll see you after church.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!  Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12)
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