5 Ways We Can Build Up the Church

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God has placed you in someone else's life for a reason. Here's how we can support each other. (Charisma archives)

There's nothing silly about it. Geese cooperate with one another in a way that often puts humans to shame.

We in the body of Christ like to use metaphors. A metaphor is a comparison that enhances our understanding of a subject. Lately, for example, we've heard a lot of talk in the church about bees. The cooperation and exchange between different streams in the body of Christ has been compared to the cross-pollination produced by bees, resulting in greater fruitfulness and harvest.

Years ago we went through a sheep phase, when it seemed as if everyone was talking about the church's likeness to a herd of sheep. We learned a great deal about sheep--and about the church--in those days. And we found out that when Jesus likened us to sheep, it was not necessarily a compliment!

Today I want to suggest a new metaphor. It has actually been circulating throughout the corporate world, but I believe it has much to teach us about relationships, positions and leadership in the body of Christ.

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FLYING HIGHI believe when the church is operating correctly, it is like a flock of Canadian geese. Have you noticed how geese fly in a near-perfect "V" formation?

Scientists have studied the flying patterns of geese and have come to understand why they position themselves this way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following it; thus, the whole flock has a 71 percent greater flying range than a goose flying alone!

Do we in the body of Christ have as much sense as a goose? The truth is, as a community of believers flowing and working together, we have the ability to encourage one another and lift one another up. And we can go a lot farther together than we can alone.

Each of us has the ability to impact the people around us more than we think. I remember walking into a worship service at a women's conference after not having had much sleep the night before. I wanted to get into the spirit of the service, but I was weary.

Then a little "flapper" came into view. The young woman was dancing and worshiping with her whole heart, and suddenly this old "goose" began to respond to the lift. Soon I was worshiping, too, with everything that was in me.

Now I know there are people who have never learned to flap. They've always been satisfied to rise on the wind of others.

But I think God is calling everyone to flap. It doesn't matter how we feel; somebody needs us to flap! And as we do--as we praise and worship the Lord--we are changed, along with everyone around us.

Basic Truth No. 1: Believers need one another. By sharing a sense of community, we can get where we're going easier and quicker because we're benefiting from one another's thrust.

NO MORE FLYING SOLO Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone. Quickly it gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation. If on the other hand we demand to be exclusive or are determined to fly solo in our ministry, we will be in for a rough ride.

I believe the Lord is going to demand an end to flying solo. If we're out there on our own, the first wind current is going to take us far out of sight of everyone else--and we'll be useless to the body of Christ.

This is a day when the Lord is demanding that all of us have roots somewhere. If you don't have a local church, you need to find out why. Is there not one good enough? Is there not one pretty enough?

This is not the church's problem; it's yours. Each of us must pray until we know that we know that we know that we are in the place where God wants us--and not so that we can correct it or change it, but so we can get in the flow and fly in formation with other believers.

Basic Truth No. 2: We need to stay in formation with those who are headed in the same direction we're going.

ROTATING THE POINT In a flock of geese, when the head goose gets tired, he rotates back into the wing and allows another goose to fly point. We need to be able to do this in the church, too. That's why training and mentoring are so important in the body of Christ.

Not just any "goose" can be put in the point position--only one who has the maturity and training for it. If you told your kids you needed a break and asked, "Who wants to make dinner tonight?" the 4-year-old would be the one to raise his hand. But it would be disastrous--for him and your home--to set a 4-year-old loose with a frying pan and a hot stove.

Some people sit in the church and pout for years because they volunteered to "fly point" and weren't allowed to. But I wouldn't trust a 4-year-old in the kitchen, and I wouldn't trust an immature believer with a leadership position in the church.

It doesn't matter how long he's been a Christian or how long he's been in a particular congregation. We all know people who have been in churches for years but are still "4." They are typically the ones who are angry and miffed when others who have been Christians for less time--but who have humbled themselves and submitted themselves to mentoring and training--are given a leadership spot.

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