Top five lessons bees are teaching the church
By Maleri Mcham
The bee is a complex insect living in community and working together to keep the hive running, much like Christians who live and grow together in faith. At Whitehouse UMC, people can find the connection between bees and faith at the monthly Beekeepers of East Texas Association meetings.
About 10 years ago, the Rev. Matthew Thomas, who was also a professional beekeeper, brought the beekeeper association to the church to host their meetings. Through hosting the beekeeper meetings at the church, surrounding churches and the community got involved.
All levels of beekeepers participate in the meetings including beginners, professionals and even those who may not have a hive but just want to learn, said the Rev. Trey Burns, pastor of Spring Faith UMC, who also served at Whitehouse UMC and is a big proponent of the project.
Typical meetings include educational components, speakers, learning from fellow beekeepers and more, Burns said. Each member “supports one another and tries to figure out how best to do their work as a community... It’s a great way to provide space for positive fellowship within the walls of the church”
Through the years, the Beekeepers of East Texas Association meetings at Whitehouse UMC have grown to include around 80 to 100 attendees, Burns said. People come from all over East Texas. While not everyone in attendance of the beekeeper meetings are members of Whitehouse UMC or other churches, there are still faith lessons that can be learned from the bees.
Burns said it takes discipline, growth and support to make sure a hive is thriving much like it takes these things to help your faith thrive. He adds that the beehive could also be a metaphor for the church.
Bees thrive in community
Day to day bees work together as a community. It is through this community that the insect thrives.
“Much like bees, the Christian faith is meant to be lived out with others because you're helped, edified, encouraged and challenged when you live with other people,” said the Rev. Cameron Supak, pastor of Whitehouse UMC.
When living in community with others you tend to look and believe similar to one another, Supak said. Christians living together in a Christ centered community will place more focus on faith and the people will be living more in Christ’s image together.
“I think God shows us, churches and communities that are healthy are ones that spend time together over meals on Sunday, they work together throughout their week towards a common goal and common purpose,” Supak said. “That only comes from discernment from the community as a whole which can't be done in isolation.”
Bees live in a hive
Bees all live together in a hive, a centralized location where they can meet and grow. This hive can be related back to the church where Christians congregate and come together through a shared belief. The church itself is a meeting place, like the beehive, where “we can grow together,” Supak said. “In my experience for most Christians, very little growth happens in isolation.”
Bees each have a task
Each bee in a hive has a specific task designated to them. People, much like bees, cannot do everything on their own. They need community, with everyone coming together to do their part.
“There's not one overarching person that's responsible,” Supak said. “The hive only succeeds when everybody works together using whatever skill they have in the Christian faith as God has given them.”
Supak said bees can remind us that a hive is not run by one person in charge but rather by everyone together. To spread the gospel in the community it really takes a team.
“Everybody has their own job -- some jobs look similar to others and other jobs are completely different -- but if everybody didn't work together, if someone stopped doing their job, the whole hive would collapse,” he said. “Within the church, I think that it's the same thing.”
Bees spread pollen
Much growth in nature occurs because the bees spread pollen. In Christianity, making disciples of Christ and spreading faith in the community is a goal that is achieved by spreading God's love.
“In many ways, growth and goodness are byproducts of our faithfulness to the gospel call of making disciples,” Supak said. “Making disciples is our primary goal, but in discipleship we help people overcome and become that which God was intended for them to be, which is beloved children of God who are forgiven and are using their life as God intended.”
As Christians our mission is to go out into the community and share our lives with others, pollinating them to see the way of the gospel and the way it leads life.
Bees make honey
Each year one bee colony works together to make up to100 pounds of honey. Bees challenge us as Christians to be fruitful and spread the gospel. Bees were designed to make honey and in doing so also help other plants grow as God intended them to do, Supak said.
This is similar to our mission as Christians “to share the gospel and in sharing the gospel we transform lives,” he said.
If we choose to not go out into our communities and share the gospel, we as Christians cannot be surprised if our churches are not as fruitful. Supak said, “It seems in many ways the church could have a lot to learn from nature itself -- specifically bees; in how they live, how they work, and how they grow.”