One of the basic values Ken and I have, which we have learned from NCMI, is that Friendship comes before, during, and after Function.
All too often in the life of the church, we see that people’s relationships are based on what they do: their function, instead of on friendship. For example, on any ministry or serving team, a person will develop a relationship with the people on that team, and the relationship should continue past the life and duties of the service. Oftentimes, however, when the ‘function’ changes, the relationship is lost, because it wasn’t based on friendship with the person. We strive to instill into our own lives, and the lives of those that we lead and minister to, that friendship should always come before function.
Unfortunately, we have even seen the elevation of function over friendship in trans-local ministry. A leader of a church that has no relationship with a guest preacher but invites him (or her) to minister into the church is inviting him in based on his ‘function’. The pastor is after what the preacher can do; his ministry and anointing. But if the pastor doesn’t know the person, he won’t know who or what he is inviting into the church. This can be a potentially dangerous situation.
Bob Mumford shared this principle: If you have measles but say you have mumps, you cannot pass mumps onto someone. You will impart what you have, not what you say, or even think, you have. In the same way, a preacher will impart who he really is, which isn’t always beneficial for the church. However, ministry based on friendship and trust will be deeply valuable. We have found that our friendships are strengthened as we have ministered with people. The more we know their hearts, the more we flow together in ministry. A friendship that has value is not based merely on what we do together, but on who each of us is.
It was this value, Friendship before Function, which opened the door for us to minister at Connection Church in Owosso, Michigan just this month. The leaders are a delightful couple named Kevin and Lori Maginity. They have two children – a daughter of 21 who leads the worship, and a son of 17 who is also part of the worship team.
So how did this happen? In the church we led in Leesburg, Virginia, one of our deacon couples was a couple named Jeremy and Jenny Cutler. Jenny was born and raised in Owosso but they had lived in Leesburg for years. About 2 years ago, they began to feel the call of God for them to move to Owosso. They worked this process through in the most amazing way, never stepping back in their involvement at our church. Eventually the time came for them to move. The church they chose to join in Owosso was Connection Church. They had been visiting this church on their visits there for some time and felt there were many things that connected their hearts.
It was through our continuing friendship with the Cutlers that the door opened for us to drive up to Michigan and spend some time building a friendship with their new leaders. This value of Friendship before Function really impacted Kevin and Lori. On the Saturday night, they had some people come around just to meet us and hang out. We had a wonderful time of fun and fellowship. On Sunday morning, Kevin opened the door for Ken to preach, which was a real privilege. In God, it is amazing how quickly hearts can connect. We felt completely at home.
Ministering to the people of Connection Church was a joy to both of us. Although we gave a few prophetic words / words of encouragement, our focus was, and is, to serve this church as we build friendship with them.
It was also such a joy to spend time with Jeremy, Jenny and their two children, enjoying the goodness of our God together. Our functions have both changed, but our friendship is the foundation which means together we can still focus on serving our King Jesus and His wonderful Kingdom, even in such different ways.