A community of care

I used to have a rugby coach who loved repeating the phrase, “There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM”. It was his way of reminding us not to act as individuals on the field, but to work together, depending on one another and supporting one another, so that the team’s goals are achieved.

The Bible communicates the same unity of commitment and purpose for Christians. Peter says, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5). Paul says, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Rom. 12:4-5). These metaphors of a house built with interconnecting stone and a human body with mutually dependant members communicate our identity, but also our reliance on one another. The spiritual health of the individual is intimately linked to the being connected to a spiritually healthy community. We need one another to grow in Christ and be pastorally cared for.

So how can we care for one another at St Andrew’s? There are at least three areas in which we seek to provide care for one another.

First, our Growth Groups are the main context for pastoral care. Care happens best in established relationships. These small groups are where we can get to know one another deeply, to spend time with each other, study God’s word together, provide for many practical needs, and pray for one another’s needs. Normally in these groups, people will connect to a few people more closely. Over time, they’ll feel more comfortable in sharing personal joys and achievements, struggles and sins. Practical care can be provided more directly and effectively during times of acute difficulty.

We need one another to grow in Christ

Secondly, St Andrew’s also provides practical care through our ‘CARE Fund’ (Community Aid Relief and Emergency). This fund exists to provide financial support for church members going through challenging times or crisis. This fund is also used to give support to asylum seekers and refugees.

How can people access these funds? Applications are handled confidentially by a small committee of staff and lay leaders. At first instance, you can contact one of our pastoral staff. Church members are also welcome to donate to this fund as a practical way of caring for others and supporting the work of the gospel. You can donate directly to this fund through the giving page on the church website. 

Thirdly, pastoral staff are available to meet with church members who are going through more acute difficulties. These difficulties include bereavement, divorce, and addiction, which are often beyond the ability of Growth Groups to provide appropriate care. Sometimes support groups are also set up for people going through similar experiences (such as bereavement).

A final encouragement. Sometimes our tendency when in difficulty is not to seek help but to suffer quietly. If you are in need, can I encourage you to reach out to the church family for support.