Since we began our adventure last fall to engage our community in a new and (hopefully) more meaningful way, I have struggled with a lot of conflicting feelings about the way we do church – both in my own church and in the greater Body. Understand, this is a hard struggle for me. I have been a part of my particular denomination since I was born. I have memories and mementoes from all of the children’s programs, choirs, Bible drills, youth activities – you name it, I did it. I am COMMITTED to my people. In fact, I married a minister and absolutely love denominational happenings (yes, a little strange).
But the things that I have learned the past six or so months have led me to an inescapable conclusion – we are often guilty of being so busy building bigger and supposedly better ministries that we do not see the people right around us who are both spiritually and physically hungry.
Hear me – I am not pointing fingers. I am as guilty as anyone. I have started and led women’s ministries, college groups, music groups, and children’s ministries. I have tried to be innovative, cutting-edge, slicker-than-the-church-down-the-street-so-we-can-draw-more-people.
And you know what I have learned?
I am worn out.
I am tired of competing to be the best. I am tired of competition among churches. I am tired of competing with those in my local body and with others in the greater evangelical world.
The Christian life is not about who attracts the biggest crowd, whose offering is the highest, who has the nicest sanctuary, or who has the best band. It is not about who gets the “star” ministry positions or the choir solos. The Christian life is about following the example that Christ set before us – putting others first and ourselves dead-last; meeting people in their sin and offering them spiritual food; and literally providing for their physical needs.
It is about being a band of followers who share all things in common, who care about the larger body more than about individual desires. It is about hearing and understanding the differences among our members, and embracing those differences rather than being suspicious of them. It is about caring, loving, serving, sacrificing.
Will I give up working with established church ministries like our choir, VBS, or Sunday School? No. I believe that those groups can fit into God’s design for His Church. But some of them may need to be done differently. We may need to sacrifice some sacred cows so that we can return to God’s mission to give hope to a lost and dying world.
I believe that the established church has a place in God’s Kingdom today, but we may have to give up some things that are near and dear to our hearts so that the Great Commission becomes real again in our lives. But the other thing I have learned on this journey is this – it will be worth it.