Once upon a time, I attended the Focus on the Family Institute (now Focus Leadership Institute) in Colorado Springs. An amazing, life-altering experience, and one of the best decisions I’ve made in my spiritual journey.
What made it so awesome?
Fellowship! Up until that point, I walked out my faith largely alone. Sure I churched, retreated, Bible studied, mission-tripped, worshipped and prayed. Yay for me! But those didn’t change me the way people did. Until FFI, I was living day-to-day by myself.
The Focus Institute’s focus on community turned my world upside-down. Suddenly I was surrounded by believers who lived their faith and passionately loved the Lord! I felt safe, valued for who and how I am, and respected, and everyone around me was too. It was amazing. The men stepped up and treated us ladies with love and service – the way God designed women to be treated – instead of pursuing us for worldly reasons. It was a slice of heaven.
Weekly we came together for “Koinonia” – fellowship, worship, food and just QT. I adored it!! People were honest about where they were at. Broken from their pasts. In such intimacy, facades couldn’t survive, and it rocked!
Since leaving Focus, I’ve hunted for a community of believers that compares. I’ve struggled to find others (especially my age) willing to live their lives openly. After several years of searching, I found myself retreating to old ways of doing relationships and feeling vulnerable at how vulnerable I became after Focus. Being fake and “having it all together” became the norm again. There seemed no other option.
This is precisely why I love the article below. God’s church – His beloved bride! – is meant to be raw, honest, confronting and confrontable (in love). We need each other to be honest so we can grow. We need a place we can let our guards down. Church hasn’t been that place for me, yet. But biblical church does not mean playing the Christian part, speaking Christianese and announcing “I’m too blessed to be stressed!” when your world’s crashing down. It’s being the part — doing it together — and sharing when life is just plain hard.
It’s been said that Joy shared is doubled, and grief shared is halved. This is why everyone needs community, even the ‘independents’ among us.
So thank you to people who don’t sugar-coat life, who confess their faults and let me know mine :) because how else can we grow if we’re not challenged? How else can we stand in tough times, like what our country’s facing, than together? I believe the answer is we can’t.
We need true church! So let’s recreate it, starting with us… but if you enjoy a superficial, comfortable world, I wouldn’t apply: http://charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones/30788-koinoniaa-missing-ingredient-in-todays-church
P.S. Enjoy these young men’s Focus Institute testimonies. I, too, shared their sentiment, and 5+ years later some of my great Focus friendships endure! http://focusyourstory.com/?p=1884, http://dustenharward.com/blog/?p=133, and http://dustenharward.com/blog/?p=97.