I was at the dentist this morning. (Don’t be jealous.)
I learned that the Hygienist (Anna) is a pastor’s wife. She asked me an important question. “What is the most difficult about leading a church?” This is a big question and difficult to answer at the dentist’s office, mainly because they ask questions and then immediately start working on your teeth. It’s hard to answer profound questions when your teeth are being cleaned. I have a brief moment to respond with one word.
I believe this is the greatest challenge that the church in the US is facing. There are so many things that are pulling at our attention. It used to be that the church’s “competition” was all the sinful behavior of the world. Now, the biggest competition is not blatantly sinful behavior. Our biggest competition all of the “good” things that we commit to.
Our culture has presented a buffet of options. The problem with buffets is never quantity, it’s quality. We fill our plates with all this stuff to consume, and it’s usually all fine. We don’t know how many times we are going to get through the buffet line, so we load that plate so full that stuff falls off the side.
This buffet mentality keeps our schedule so full because we don’t want to miss out on anything. We fill our work week with work, over-time, sports, school. We get up at 5am and go to bed at 11pm. We have very full days but we wake up every day tired.
By the time the weekend rolls around, we try to make up for lost time with recreation, family obligations, home projects, etc. When Sunday rolls around, our week has been so filled that we don’t have the physical, emotional, spiritual energy to gather with our church community this week. We say, we’ll be there next week.
But next week we get back in line in the buffet. Pretty soon, we find ourselves back at Sunday morning, worn out, exhausted, and we say, We’ll gather next week. This becomes a habit, and pretty soon we disengage and drift away.
As we have been reading through the book of Hebrews at Creekside, I have been reminded again and again, that the people of God, need each other. This Sunday, as part of the message, we are going to study Hebrews 10:24-25. This passage is a warning, to stay engaged with the community. We need us!
The hardest thing for the church today is engagement. When we have such a huge buffet of options in front of us, what are the most important things for us to pursue.
If we believe that Jesus is THE hope of the world, then our priorities in our lives should orient around Jesus. What are the ways that we can engage with Jesus?
Consider this video:
When our lives get filled with the small stuff (sand), the buffet options, there isn’t going to be room for the things that truly matter.
My prayer for the Church, not just Creekside, is that pastors and parishioners would foster engagement in the mission of Jesus in new and powerful ways. That we would not fill our schedules with all the options out there first, but to put the big rocks in first.
Here are some big rocks that we need to practice deliberately if we are going to engage with the Mission of Jesus:
- Sabbath – This is a great practice that helps us learn to say no to unnecessary things. Sabbath builds rest into our schedule. Put it on your calendar. Scheduling sabbath assumes that you are working, and makes sure that you are not always working. We cannot survive without rest.
- Prayer – Disciplines of prayer build rest periods throughout our days.
- Scripture – If we are only exposed to Bible teaching on Sundays, by the Bible “experts”, we are malnourished. Read the Bible throughout the week. Let God’s word shape your day and your priorities.
- Strengthening relationships – Have time for family and friends. Encourage each other around the dinner table, through groups.
- Serve others – Everyday is an opportunity to bless others. Look for ways to serve throughout the week
- Gather together – If you are part of church community then gathering is key. Hopefully when you gather, you are encouraged, equipped, challenged, and empowered to go out into your everyday world. And when you go out to that world, you have energy to engage in the mission of Jesus.
Engagement is key, but it doesn’t happen on accident. The mission of Jesus is accomplished as followers of Jesus engage with the teachings of Jesus, share the hope of Jesus, and open the doors for people to join the community of Jesus.