There is a chapter in John Ortberg’s book Soul Keeping entitled “The Soul Needs Satisfaction.” The premise of the chapter is that the soul always wants more. We are often concerned about what we do not have, and maybe never will have. We can become resentful and never satisfied. Ortberg goes on to say we will only ever find soul satisfaction in God. We can allow our soul to be satisfied by simply being loved by God. Further, Ortberg says, “The fact is we satisfy our souls through worship.”
There are all kinds of worship within our church. I once wrote an email to the staff members and clergy of Central who help me with this blog, thanking them for allowing me to write, supporting me in my work. I made the comment it was so “soul satisfying.” It wasn’t till later that I ran across John Ortberg’s book and realized I had unconsciously stated what my soul already knew, that my writing was a form of worship and connecting with the love of God.
There are many others who find soul satisfying worship experiences in our church in different ways. Two particularly substantial and nourishing methods are small group studies and serving the congregation. We learn that, if we feed our souls with His kindness and gratify our longing for community with models of God, then we will be soul satisfied. The Covenant Bible studies, going on at Central right now, “name our yearning to live and belong in loving relationships with self, God, and others.” I know from experience that group relationships and friendships, formed in small group studies, are important not only to our biblical knowledge but to our spiritual health and deepening trust in God. It is not enough to gather biblical knowledge alone. Sharing, serving, and loving friends provides a commitment to each other. The Bible can change you most when shared with each other. Recently our covenant class talked about when the Hebrews left Eqypt they learned how to live together in community. They learned from God that they needed to imitate Him in holiness that was reflected in every aspect of Israel’s life. They particularly learned about “(1) care and respect for parents, the elderly, immigrants, and the poor; (2) fairness in relationships and in business; and (3) justice in Israel’s methods for settling disputes.” Their testing and learning then is our testing and learning now, just in a different setting. Can we care for and respect each other in our personal relationships and in our church community life? Belonging in a small group study is a powerful force. It, too, is soul satisfying.
There is another group in Central whose work is soul satisfying. Fellowship Friends is a community, too. These Central members work to show the love of Christ to all those who enter our doors. There are 100 members in this lay-driven hospitality ministry whose challenge is to help Central become a friendlier and more inviting congregation dedicated to encouraging visitors to become more involved in the life and community of the church. Fellowship Friends began in May of 2015, and has been fully staffed since that date. Every week the Friends greet visitors, give directions and answer questions. During the following week the volunteers make follow-up phone calls or send notes and emails to first time visitors telling them how glad we are that they attended Central.
Fellowship Friends also serve as new member hosts at the close of worship services. They go forward to stand with any new members who join; ensure that the ”How to Join” card has been completed; and take a photo of the new members, for church records. Fellowship Friends express the joy of having visitors become new members. These new members have information shared with them about how to become involved in the life of the church and given the phone number and email address of the New Member Host. To connect in this way with visitors and new members is to show the love of Christ to those who enter our doors. Soul Satisfying. Another form of worship and connecting with God. A reflection of the community we are and long to be.
One more thought. Our church community worship cannot only be soul satisfying, but also “soul satisfying joy.” If you haven’t found a place already, I pray you find your place at Central to help your soul become satisfied too.
I’m fully satisfied—as with a rich dinner.
My mouth speaks praise with joy on my lips…
My whole being clings to you;
Your strong hand upholds me. Psalm 63: 5, 8
Central's Lay Leader