Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Name:
Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Living On The Edge

Recently, I overheard a conversation between two church members regarding an upcoming church event. The dialogue went something like this: "We are probably going to need more help." "We could ask the Peterson's or the Thompson's" "Yes, we could ask them, but I don't think they will help. They are always on the outside edge" "I know you are right, they don't participate in anything and don't even come all that often. Maybe we could ask the James's, they are here all the time" "Good idea, I will give them a call."

I have to confess that at first, I didn't think too much about the conversation. I just went on about my business. But, before long it began to bug me. I wondered how many of us feel this way? How many of us look at our Christian brothers and sisters and categorize them as "core" members and "those on the edge" or "fringe" members? Surely, we don't do that? Surely we see all our brothers and sisters as simply that, brothers and sisters. Don't we see them all as important parts of the body, necessary for body growth? Or is their attendance and participation so infrequent that we don't really notice when they aren't there? Do we dismiss their absence as just habitual and just accept it rather than checking on them?

I am ashamed that I do these things! It pains my heart to know that I have discounted their faith. I know that God paid the same price for them that He paid for me, the blood of His only Son. I know that! And I am always happy (and surprised) to see them and careful to say they've been missed. Ned and I even talk about how good it was to have them back with us. But in our minds we wonder how long they will stay, whether this was just their occasional foray into the worship service or would we see them more often. But then, as quickly as they entered my mind, the thoughts of them leave. I don't call them or drop them a note. I don't invite them over for dinner. And worst of all, I don't pray for them. Oh, I do generally, but specifically for those "fringe members", no, sadly I don't mention them to God. In fact, I shamedly confess, they do not cross my mind again until the next time I see them. I am not sure anyone else thinks or acts either. And then, we all wonder why they hardly ever come, why they seldom participate, why they don't seem to want to fellowship.

I have been thinking about what it would be like "living on the edge", feeling like a visitor when you are among family? I have wondered what thoughts would pass through one's mind when they were treated like a "temp" rather than a worker? Would I be willing to exert energy and time when I know I would be on the fringe? Would I gladly work at a project as an outsider? I don't think I would. I think I would fill my life with other activities. I think I would spend my time with other friends, building relationships with those in the world. I think I would give my attention, my money and my all to those who made me feel welcome and as if I belonged. I think I would come to worship only when I had nothing better do. I think I would eventually adjust to living on the edge. How about you?

Peace
Neva

26 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Neva,
This one really stepped on my toes. I too am ashamed.

Yvonne

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, great insight into cause and effect. I think you are right.

brian

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are so many unnoticed people. We tend to think it is their responsibility to change their status---thus absolving the "core" group of any responsibility. How sad and shameful that we do this.
Great post.
Dan

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Tim Archer said...

I've been going through a bit of this in my own life. I moved a year ago from a position as a pulpit minister (do pulpits need to be ministered to?) to a position with a Christian non-profit. I moved to Abilene and started attending a large church.

A few weeks ago I went on a mission trip with my previous congregation, and I realized that I still feel a part of that congregation, while I really don't feel a part of things where I am. Much of that is my fault: pouring my time and effort into an international Christian cause leaves little energy for local stuff. Yet I'm amazed that I don't even feel like I can share with my local church all the neat stuff I'm doing through my ministry.

I'm on the edge and not totally sure what to do about it. What's worse, my family is on the edge as well.

Maybe I should move to Spearman!

Grace and peace,
Tim

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again your post convicts me and sets me on my knees, a place I have needed to be for some time.
Thank you

Pat

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those on the edge can become some of our greatest assets--they just need some encouragement.

Dean

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been on the edge, too. It is a horrible place to be, going to worship is so very uncomfortable. Being involved is so very uncomfortable. And withdrawing is not good because then your conscience bothers you. Living on the edge, not where any Christian should be. We need to do whatever it takes to make sure we are all "core"members.

Rachel

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with all the other comments. I have been there on the edge, I have ignored those on the edge and I need to do better

Great post

Jean

11:38 AM  
Anonymous georgian peach said...

This is very good. I don't think I have ever read or heard anything about this topic. It is one that needs to be addressed in our churches.

Blessings
Georgia

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so clever, I thought you were totally going somewhere else with this. Good topic.


Corinne

12:52 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Household: said...

I don't know that it is an either or. There are 'core' memebrs who exclude 'fringe'. There are those on the outer edges who refuse to make a deeper commitment even when invited in.

Many times I think the issue is what are we commited to? Programs breed core/fringe. Buildings can as well. Institutional things tend to be where the commitment is. Shepherds don't becasue they are too busy with .....

I'm not saying we need to do away with having the building or a paid preacher or .... But, minstry, people, Jesus, hope, love, life, these are where we need to focus. Everythingelse is just a tool to get the message out.

But, it is easier said than done. Those in the core need to stop seeing themselves as the core. Those on the fringe need to stop as well. And I need to stop preaching. God bless us as we live as He wants us to.
James

1:10 PM  
Blogger Neva said...

Tim,
I have prayed about my response to your comment. I believe you may need to make time for something with your congregation. At least perhaps make some attempts to make some friends who you can socialize with as a family. I think it is going to be really difficult to bring your neighbors when you are not invested in the local body. Sadly, not everyone shares your love for the international cause. I applaud your expanded vision, but would encourage you to do some "spiritual sightseeing" in your own neighborhood. They would be blessed and I think you would be also. Who knows your relationship with them might expand their world. You might develop some really good christian friends who would partner in your ministry in some way.
BTW, you are always welcome in Spearman. You could come visit anytime. The church has provided us with a very large home and I make killer desserts (IMHO) :)
I will pray for you.
Peace
Neva

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes change is difficult, something as little as making an effort, getting out of our self-centered, busyness can make all the difference in another's spiritual walk. Thank you for this post, my friend, it was very insightful. you are a wise, wise woman.

Jeneane

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

If we ever hope to see the Body unified, we have to loose the prejudices that are so easily incorporated into our lives.

Another awesome post. I love your blog!

2:16 PM  
Anonymous carol said...

Neva,
I know there are some who feel they are on the fringe when they truly are not. I am not sure what we need to do to help them.
Missed you today

Love
carol

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post today, Neva. I finally got caught up again. I get behind and then am doubly or triply blessed when I play catchup.

Shari

3:20 PM  
Blogger AncientWanderer said...

Afternoon neva

4:27 PM  
Blogger Neva said...

Good afternoon Don,
Did you just wake up from a nap? :)
I thought all preachers took a nap in the afternoon. :)

Whats up in Donneyland?

n

5:00 PM  
Anonymous LivingFragrance said...

I agree with your blog... and I have been on both 'sides' I have been what we refer to as a 'core' memeber and I have been on the 'fringes' also... it is a lot easier to be a part of something (e.g. a family) when you are being included and made to feel part of the family....

Thanks for the blog :)

5:30 PM  
Blogger Liz Moore said...

I think this is something we are all guilty of to a certain extent. Some of those people are on the fringe, because we continually say things, like "I don't think they will help. They are always on the outside edge." Some of those people are just waiting to be asked, waiting to be included, and waiting to feel like someone thinks they have something to offer. Sometimes we just need to go ahead and ask them. Thanks for a great reminder!

10:42 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

I think that most of us have been on the 'fringe' at one time or another. Maybe we were new christians or possibly we were moving to a new congregation. Most of us probably became 'core' members when we were asked to do something that we felt comfortable doing. Sometimes, it just takes time to find the right niche for folks.
And then...some folks don't want to get invovled, because then they may actually have to COMMIT.
True, though, we should all treat one another as family, no matter the level of our involvement. we all have our place in the kingdom, and I thank God that we are all so different.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Great thoughts, Neva. You always challenge my thinking, and most importanly my actions. Doesn't mean that I always like it, but believe me, it is always needed and appreciated in time.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Neva, what do you think is worse, being on the edge and knowing it, or being on the edge and believe that you are the core?

Is that even possible?

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Tim Archer said...

Neva,

Thanks for the thoughts...

Just so you know, we're not totally "on the edge." I've taught some classes and have been asked to continue to do so. I just notice the difference between the small church where I knew everyone (being "the preacher") and the big church where we're not as well known.

I'll still take your thoughts under consideration. God bless.

Grace and peace,
Tim

4:21 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Household: said...

I'm not an edge kind of person. I'm either in or out. Active or I dismiss myself. But I do have to be mindful because most people are not like me.

I do believe that people do think and act when they see those fringe people. They see them in the grocery store and they think, I don't have time so I will duck and shuffle quickly. They see them at the school and think, "They have such horribly behaived kids, I would hate to deal with them regularly in Bible class. I'm glad it is only when they remember to show up" and then they make a note to discipline the kids when they come. They see them out working in their yard on the way to church on Sunday and think "What heathens" and they don't stop to ask them if they need help later so they could go now.

People do think and act.
Kathy

1:20 PM  
Blogger Stacie said...

This is a great post! top 10 for sure... I realy relate to this one!

7:37 PM  

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