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Friday, August 5, 2011

No One Wants A Prosthesis

     Please welcome Jennifer Slattery, our guest blogger for the day. Also a member of the writer's group ACFW, she has inspired me on many occasions with her reminders to continually draw nearer to God and use our gifts for His Glory. That's why I am so excited to have her guest blog with me today.

No One Wants a Prosthesis--by Jennifer Slattery

     This summer our family spent a week in El Salvador. While there, we worshiped with another church, served at an orphanage, and helped facilitate nightly crusades. In each of these events, I was struck with how different the culture was from ours, and I’m not talking about music or food choices. The biggest difference? The El Salvadorans took the idea of a spiritual family very seriously. When they said, “She is a sister in Christ,” they meant it. You could see their deep love for one another in their eyes. You could hear it in their tone. But most importantly you could see it in their actions. If you belonged to Jesus, you were family--plain and simple.
     That’s not true here in the states. We have learned to be independent and to focus on ourselves. We train our children to do the same. More often than not, we see to it that life revolves around them–their social schedule, their sports schedule, whatever. Oh, perhaps we’ll ask them to give up an hour out of their seventy-two hour week (not counting sleeping time) to help with an outreach event, but what does that teach? Honestly, it might help exacerbate the problem by reinforcing the idea that service is done on a time-schedule. When it fits in. Friends are convenient--for our pleasure.
     This temporary friendship mentality has trickled into the church. How often do we drop gospel tracts on someone’s door, never to see them again? Do we really think those people will somehow appear for worship because of a slip of paper? Or when a new couple comes to church, we’ll offer our friendship and invite them to dinner…until they become established. Then we move on to someone else.
That’s not friendship and that’s not a Body. That’s a temporary prosthesis.
     And here’s the deal. By conforming to our westernized, individualized culture, we’re losing out on one of the biggest draws of the church. Our love for one another is meant to draw others to us, which in turn is meant to draw non-believers to Christ. I believe they’ll come for the relationship first, and will be exposed and drawn to Jesus in the process.
     So here’s the challenge: How do you view your brothers and sisters in Christ? According to the Bible, they are your family. More than that, they are part of a Living Body. If you struggle viewing them in this regard–in truly loving them as Christ loves the church, ask God to help you  find ways to get out of your comfort zone, ways to connect.
     Second, focus on long-term. No one likes to be a project. When you reach out to that new couple or leave a gospel tract on a doorstep, ask yourself, “Am I ready to be here for them for the long haul or am I just trying to ‘get them in’?”
     Because people can tell the difference. One type of friendship draws them and creates a place of safety where they can learn about Christ. The other type of friendship results in increased distrust.
     I’m speaking to myself here. I’ve experienced many “temporary friendships” in the church, and honestly, it’s left me a little gun-shy and distrustful. But I have to remember it’s not about me. Yeah, chances are those people I reach out to are going to hurt me. Chances are they’ll ditch a year or two down the road, but the Bible tells me “as far as it depends on me….” meaning, it’s not my concern how others respond to my love or friendship. My concern is living out my faith with full surrender, letting God’s love flow through me moment-by-moment.
     This mentality also applies to how we do missionsIn the meantime, spend a moment in prayer and ask God to show you faulty thinking in regard to the body (not just your church body, but all believers world-wide). Then be diligent about cooperating with God. When you catch individualistic thinking creeping in, take your thoughts captive and reroute them.

Jennifer Slattery is a novelist, publicist, and freelance writer living in the Midwest with her husband of sixteen years and their thirteen year old daughter. She works for Tiffany Colter, the Writing Career Coach, as an assistant publicist, is the marketing manager for the literary website, Clash of the Titles and writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse and Samie Sisters. She’s also written for numerous other publications and websites and has placed in numerous writing contests. You can find out more about her and her writing at her website: Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud (http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com)

Writers, want to add juice to your book proposals? Need help building a novel-sustaining platform? Want to turn your novel from good to great without going broke? Jennifer can help. She’ll create a marketing plan uniquely designed for you that targets your readers. Don’t have the time to implement the plan? That’s okay. She’ll do it for you, setting up guest blog slots and interview opportunities, writing press releases and relevant articles, and more. She’d also love to review your work, highlighting your strengths and helping you zero in on and strengthen your weaknesses. Contact her at Jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com to find out more.


  1. Wonderful blog, Jennifer! I agree that lack of depth in our church relationships is real. I attend a very family oriented church, yet it still could grow in that area - which means I could. Your marketing services sound interesting, too. Many authors struggle with that.

    God bless!

  2. What a good post, Jennifer. Churches in our country are losing memberships, which is so sad to me. I wonder when we as a country started losing our sense of community. When I was growing up if someone missed church, people called to see if he or she was sick. It's not that way today. I go to a large church, but belong to a small Sunday school class. All of the members are very close and very caring. It makes a difference. We love the class and don't want to miss it. We feel loved and at home in it. I do wonder about something else. Here our faith isn't part of our communities. As I understand it, we were founded as a Christian nation, but we are no longer a Christian nation. We've taken prayers and God out of our schools, so our communities and our religions are separated. Many countries only have one religion, so the community and the religion are all linked together. Does that make a difference? What was the main religion in El Salvadore?

  3. Thanks, laides! Gail, I think most El Salvadorians are Catholic, but I'm not for sure. And you could be right. I know some of the things I spoke of were cultural. In America, we train our children to be independent. Many other countries place (and train their children to place) a high value on community. I also think there is not as much urbanization, so you see a lot of families working together, which also helps negate self-isolating individualism, I believe.

    Mildred, your church sounds wonderful! And I agree, this is an area we can all grow in! And thanks for your encouragement in regard to the marketing. Everyone's been so encouraging and God keeps opening doors in this area. You can find out more about my services and what others are saying about them at http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/about/

  4. Hi Jennifer, I can vouch for the validity of your message. Since my husband and I travel in our RV full time, we have opportunity to visit many churches. One church in Campbellsville, KT welcomed us with open arms every Sunday and made us feel at home. Then in Ardmore, OK, very few even shook our hands and we went there for three months. So, yes, some of us Christians do get so busy we forget our real purpose. Thanks for you post today.