Every congregation has a core---an unofficial group of members who show up to nearly every function, work party, moving help, or bible class. These are the folks who are actively involved in the church in whatever capacity they are suited to. Sometimes they are noticed, sometimes not, but they are familiar, reliable faces and their absence is felt if not always acknowledged. No matter what the situation, our congregations should seek to expand this core, bringing the fringe members in so that there is no longer a core, but rather an entire group that works together as a family. This begins with building meaningful relationships.
The young man sat statue-like in the pew, observing the various chattering knots of people. There were hugs exchanged, hands waving, and smiling faces. Three weeks had elapsed since he was baptized. He was supposed to be "part" of this group now, and yet he still felt like an outsider. The first week, there had been an outpouring of congratulations, exuberance and introductions. He definitely didn't know more than a handful of names yet. As the weeks had trickled by, he was just... well... he was just there. The sermons were still excellent, but the preacher assumed that everyone in the audience knew all this stuff. He shook his head with a small chuckle. He still couldn't find books like---what was it---Habakkuk? Well, it was something like that. The Bible classes were hard to keep up with too. A lot of the discussion was over his head. Maybe his friends at college were right. Maybe this was a joke. It was as if his conversion was the end-goal and now these Christians didn't care if he was here or gone.