How often do you think about joy? Hopefully it’s often, and not only in the context of wishing you had more joy. Hopefully you are joyful. Hopefully people are glad to be with you and you are glad to be with others. Although by God’s grace I grow in joy every day, I was not always a very joyful person; joy does not always come naturally to me.
I am reading a book called Joy Starts Here: the transformation zone. It’s changing my life… by changing how I approach relationships. The skills I’m learning include ways to make my relationship with a person more important than a problem between us, even (or especially) in distress. God is the ultimate example of making the relationship more important than the problem. Sin and the resulting separation was the problem, and God sent his beloved son to die for our sin so that we could have a repaired relationship. Relationship > problem.
As Mama to a preschooler and a toddler, I’m practicing these skills a lot! The book emphasizes growing joy in the home, church and school – three places people spend most of their time.
One section in particular impacted me regarding our ministry as church planters. We must cultivate a healthy group identity in order for the church to thrive and continue to grow.
No human community is free from dysfunctions related to sin and iniquity, but living in the transformation zone corrects many of our deformities as joyful maturity grows. We see a decrease in fear and fear-bonded relationships. Spontaneous vulnerability increases because we feel safe, respected and protected. The strong and the weak rest together. Protectors pass their skills to the next generation. Weak people find courage to create belonging and joyfully create places for others. Joyful relationships cultivate a “glad to be with you” lifestyle. We will find days for rest, help for the poor, creativity, generosity, diligence, maturity, honesty, hopefulness, investment in the future, training, curiosity, play, and other virtues when joy is central to a group identity.” – From Joy Starts Here, page 80
That is the kind of church I want to plant. As I disciple young Spaniards, I want to see God cultivate the virtues listed above in their hearts, because I know that will lead to satisfying and healthy relationships, which is the central theme of one of the scriptures that motivates me to want to plant churches in dark Western Europe, 1 John 1:6-7.
We want to see the Gospel transform the lives of people in Spain, churches planted and disciples multiplied. Joy is the heart behind our desire, because the true joy given through believing the Good News can change a whole community.