Calling the Church to Connect
By Randy Montgomery
The dictionary defines the word connect as “to join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind.” As I read those words, I thought how much that sounds like the church. “We reach our hands in fellowship to every blood-washed one” is one way that we have historically expressed this strategic value. We are connected as part of the body of Christ to each other and to God. As one of the Five Strategic Values of the Church of God, connect, for us, is defined as “renewing our relational connectivity and identity with God and with others.”
Jesus prayed not only for his disciples but “for all who will ever believe in me” (NLT) that they will all be one, just as he and the Father are one (John 17:21–23). The ways in which we live out our connection brings gives credibility to our relationship with God in the eyes of the world. Jesus put it this way, “that the world will believe” (v 21). Originally the Transformation Teams labeled this value “Refresh.” As we have begun to focus on this value throughout the life of the church, the Transformation Teams have concluded the word connect more clearly defines the intent of our value.
The word connect reflects our historical value and message of unity. In “Confessing and Celebrating: A Tract For Transitional Times,” Barry Callen writes, “God intends the appearance in this world of a very real and united family of new creations in Christ.” The world is hungry for such a demonstration of connectivity from God’s people. Not only do we seek as a movement to connect with each other, but we are striving to connect with God in fresh and vital ways.
For the past two years, Focus 40 has called the church to such encounters with God. In 2013 the Focus 40 prayer and fasting season will emphasize “Extreme Love.” The need is real. In a January 2012 report, “What People Experience in Churches,” the Barna Group reported that “one-third of those who have attended a church in the past have never felt God’s presence while in a congregational setting.” Of all places, our churches should be locations where people find a connection with God. Our Five Strategic Values, Love, Reach, Connect, Grow, and Live, provide guidance and help in keeping our lives and churches focused on what is important to Christ.
As we seek to “transform the culture by being the body of Christ,” let’s seek fresh encounters, connecting with God in intimate, relevant ways. Let’s come together as God’s family, united, connected, and committed to the oneness that Jesus prayed for on our behalf.