Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Curiosity and your church's unity

Monthly Theme: Curiosity

Reading time: two minutes

Kids have it. Adults lose it. Churches do too. It’s curiosity.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus asked people so many questions? Hmmm.

The world is fractured by division. Our communities cry out for living displays of what Jesus can do when He gathers us by grace to live in harmony. It’s why Paul encouraged the Ephesians to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (4:2).

The Spirit’s gift to us is the unity we share by our common faith in the Savior, Jesus. When we get curious about one another and listen to one another’s stories of faith, stories of hope, stories of love, joy, peace and patience, we’re making an effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.

I was called to a congregation that had experienced a significant fracture of unity. The best thing I did was teach the Word in a two-year through the Bible program.

The next best thing I did was listen to stories, and teach the congregation how to listen to each other’s stories.

We gathered in homes on Monday evenings for most of a year. Hosts invited friends, and I asked questions. We got curious.

“Tell me the story of this church.”

“How long have you been a member here? Why did you join?”

“What does your faith in Christ mean to you?”

“How has this congregation helped you to grow?”

I learned a great deal about the church and its history, but mostly I learned to know the members of the congregation.

My most significant memory of these curiosity meetings, however, was the response of those present. Usually, the meetings were gatherings of people who knew each other pretty well. Hosts invited friends, remember?

I heard people say to one another over and over, “Really? I had no idea!” as they shared little bits and pieces of their life stories with others, people whom they thought they knew pretty well. They shared stories of tragedy and heartbreak; stories that reflected the healing power of the gospel as their faith in God’s undying love and providential care saw them through.

Then we dug deeply into the Bible and found that it is largely stories of people just like us,

people lost in sin, fractured and divided, but redeemed by the grace of God and brought together into the body of Christ.

Compassionate curiosity is a sign of health in a church.

It’s good for churches to hear their Pastor’s story, too. A church council once shared with me that a significant change happened to their congregation’s inward focus when they simply asked their Pastor one evening, “Why did you become a Pastor?”

He told them. They listened. It led to study of the scripture and prayerful discernment of the Lord’s will for His Church, and their congregation.

They got curious. Their neighbors began to notice.

God bless you as you “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Thanks for reading.