Tag: Church (page 3 of 8)

What will your last words be?

What will your last words be?

Will they be something eloquent? Or more like the last words of a redneck:

Hey y’all. Watch this!

Ever think about the legacy you’re going to leave? And whether your last words will be worth quoting…or worth forgetting?

It’s easy to focus on people’s last words. Looking throughout history, there have been a lot of people worth quoting on their deathbed, in their final hours.

It’s easy to get lulled into thinking that our last words are the most important of our lives. That what really matters is what we will say on our way to heaven.

I love the focus of this video, though, that our team at Longhollow put together.

A good life lived will be better heard than famous last words.

p.s. Jason Dyba is a creative genius.

Famous Last Words from Long Hollow Creative on Vimeo.

 

 

10 Things Nobody Told Me about Being a Small Groups Pastor

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image credit: CreationSwap user Tim Mossholder. Edits mine

I’ve been a small groups pastor now for more than 7 years. I’ve led at Grace Community ChurchLong Hollow, and I’m now at Saddleback Church.

I love group life. I love recruiting, training, equipping, challenging, scheming, planning, dreaming, and writing. I believe that groups are the heartbeat of a local church, and one of the most beautiful expressions of the authentic Christian life.

But being a groups pastor isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Or if that’s not your thing…it’s not all coffee and bagels. Turns out, this is hard work. but it’s hard work worth every ounce of sweat, every drop of creativity, and every inch of effort you can give.

I’ve had lots of folks tell me that they’d love to get in the small groups space. Some have been high school students ready to jump in to ministry. Others have been guys who are currently in a ministry that they don’t love. Each person has experienced life change through small groups, and would love to invest their lives making that happen. Here are some of the things I’ve told them as a “heads up” before they dabble their toe in the water.

10 Things Nobody Told me about Being a Small Groups Pastor

1. Not everybody will like you.

Especially when you tell them, “I don’t have a small group for you right now.” Or “No, we don’t have that kind of group.” Or, “I’m sorry that small group life is difficult.” Or, “Ouch…she said that in your small group?” because no perfect people are allowed. Or, “No, we won’t have a small group where you teach for 2 hours every week about the coming rapture…about the evils of smoking cigarettes…about how our society is going to Hell because we watch rated R movies…about how all single moms are dirty rotten sinners.” Small group pastors must have tough skin.

2. Small groups are messy. 

If you enjoy coloring in the lines, and having everything neat, pretty, and always on schedule, find another ministry. Small groups are messy and difficult because people are messy and difficult. Small group pastors have to find the beauty in the mess. It’s there, like a diamond hidden among the rough. God’s at work right in the midst of the nastiest junk in people’s lives, and that junk comes out in small groups. Get ready for it.

3. Not all of the staff will be fully supportive.

I naively thought that every staff member would wholly embrace small groups with no explanation, no push-back, no confusion, and with arms wide open. Turns out they’ve got thoughts, questions, and legitimate concerns, too. This isn’t all bad, because it pushes you to answer some hard questions. Just a heads up. Knowing is half the battle, right?

4. Getting life change stories from small groups will be tough.

Mining stories is unbelievable valuable in shifting people’s hearts towards group life. Figuring out the best way to mine those is tough, though. And there’s no one “right” way to do it. Sometimes it’s best to shoot videos, other times to simply send out emails. Other times interviewing on stage is best. But capturing those stories is tough. Get ready for a challenge.

5. If you don’t do anything, nothing will happen.

Small groups ministry doesn’t run on a weekly cycle like student ministry (with Wednesday night programming), children’s ministry, or the worship team (with Sunday morning programming). So if you’re not a self-motivated, self-driven starter, you’ll languish. There are certain times every year where groups are launching, but in between those times, you’ve got to keep the wheels moving. If you don’t, things don’t naturally happen. Community doesn’t bubble up from the ground. Structures don’t naturally form. Schedules and timelines don’t magically happen. Know that if you don’t do anything in the down times, nobody else will.

6. You’d better be awesome at recruiting.

A big chunk of the role of the small groups pastor is in recruiting. Whether you’re recruiting a group leader, a coach, a potential hire, a current staff member, or a small group leadership board, the small groups pastor never gets a day off. Recruiting can and does happen anywhere, anytime. You’d better be good at it. Or learn to be.

7. You’ll have to constantly teach people what small groups are.

You may not be teaching from stage every week, but “teaching” is a key function of the groups pastor. No matter what your culture is, you’ll have to be teaching people the value of healthy community. Teaching people your process for assimilation, your process for discipleship, and your groups structure. You’ll teach new members, existing ones, staff members, and new recruits. Always be on your toes.

8. Small group coaches are vital.

The group leader that’s not coached will not be all he or she could be. And you, the groups pastor, can’t coach every leader. Unless, of course, you just have 1 or 2 other leaders. If you have more than 2 leaders, recruit a coach. They’ll help you invest time in leaders, give them a support structure, let them have a voice, and ensure they’re being encouraged, corrected, and cared for. Every small group structure has to involve coaches. Or assimilators. Or champions. Or directors. Or advocates. Or whatever you call them.

9. Get a team of supporters. Now.

Build a base of people who understand and support your vision. They don’t have to be small group leaders themselves, but they need to be strong leaders who buy what you’re selling. Vision leaks, and you want others leaking your vision across the landscape of your local church. Know who your friends are. And give them insider information.

10. This is the most fun job in the whole church.

It’s messy. It’s difficult. It’s frustrating. But at the end of the day, your role exists to help people find God’s beautiful gift of community. You get the chance to create environments where people are free to explore faith, and experience church in a transparently safe way. It’s an amazing ride.

Are you a small groups pastor? Know one?

What did I leave out?

 

 

27 things I’m thankful for

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image credit: CreationSwap user Rich Aguilar

This has been a tough year for us. Transitioning churches, cities, and completely overhauling our relationships has been a tough row to hoe. And we wouldn’t have made it but for the grace of God. We’ve found that God’s grace often comes packaged as friends. And occasionally coffee. 🙂

27 Things I’m Thankful for

1. God’s not done with me yet.

2. God’s grace is still for me, not just for everyone else.

3. My wife loves me, and still puts up with me. 🙂

4. My son’s an adventurer. I don’t have to teach him to live dangerously and take risks. I don’t have to push him be a boy. He does it naturally.

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Rex & the crab

5. I’m in a healthy, growing, vibrant church that’s open to change.

6. My job is challenging. Nothing worse than being in a mundane job where you coast and aren’t needed.

7. Our house will be done soon. We’re living with my in-laws. It’s awesome, but I’m excited about our the project coming together. Here’s what we’ve got now:

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our lot

 

8. My coffee station. It’s the little things, right?

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my office coffee station

9. That I don’t have to put up with cats. But you already knew that. Again, the little things. 🙂

10. To be in a job that I enjoy.

11. To serve on staff with a leader that I enjoy. Thanks Derek.

12. The burgeoning small groups team. We’re small, but scrappy. 🙂 thanks Micha!

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13. The staff that has supported us in great ways. Especially Nick and Parker. And Calvin and Erica. Oh yeah, and Eric. Tony. Cyndi. Jason. Nate. Bill. The Dybas. Rog. Angie. Jeff. J Lo. Jeff. LT. Robyn. Lynne. Shannon. Brian. Shane. The Lamberths. Amanda. Todd. Henry. Julie. Andrew. Heck, you can see them all here.

14. The work I get to do with Steve Gladen and the Small Group Network. It’s awesome.

15. Being in a job where my gifts are maximized and my heart and mind are challenged. I know I kind of said that already, but I’m super thankful. So it bears repeating.

16. The countless small group leaders that have made it a point to encourage me in this transition.

17. Our family, that we’re living with. They’re so gracious.

18. My family, who has been so supportive of the craziness that has been our life over the past few months.

19. Grace, with whom we spent 5 amazing years.

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20. Chad & the rest of the staff team at Grace, that were incredibly gracious and supportive of us as we made the hardest move of our lives.

2!. Good friends like David and Tony and the Anthonys and the Wolfes that have come to see us in Hendersonville.

22. Guys in my life that mentor me from far off. Thanks Ron.

23. My buddies that helped me move. Thanks John, Tony, Brad, Brandon, and Byron.

24. Friends that have still stayed in touch, even though I’ve moved. Thanks Jesse, Michael, and Peter.

25. Chocolate chip pecan pie. With a piping hot cup of good coffee.

26. Our Clarksville realtor, who helped us sell our house in 3 days. Thanks Jackie.

27. Our Hendersonville realtor, who showed us that it’s possible to be patient with a young couple as they look through 50+listings…only to end up buliding something new. Thanks Jeff.

What are you thankful for? Anybody you can thank, and tag here?

 

6 Reasons I Love the Church

I love parachurch ministries. (ministries like Campus Crusade For Christ, Lifeway, Hope Pregnancy Center, etc.) They play such an important role in the kingdom, coming alongside the church in a beautiful way to serve our communities. I’ve done ministry with parachurch organizations, served on leadership boards, and pointed countless people to them as viable, vital organizations.

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image credit: Creation Swap user pru lee

But I have distinctly chosen not to work at a parachurch. I have nothing bad to say against them. Nothing at all. But I understand where God’s called me to lead and serve, and it’s in a local church.

Recently I sat down with the VP at a large Christian organization, and he pitched me a job offer. It was a sweet gig, and the twist he threw my way was, “This is the chance to serve not just one, but to serve thousands of local churches through your work here.” It caused me to take a step back and evaluate who I was and what God was calling me to.

In the process, I realized how much I love the local church. I saw just how much I adore the local expression of the body of Christ. I received a renewed passion for this beautiful, hot mess of a bride that Jesus died for.

6 reasons I love the church

 1. It’s messy.

Local church work isn’t neat and tidy. Ever. If it grows clean, that means you’re not doing the work of evangelism…or you’re disengaged from real ministry. Real ministry with real people who have real problems is a mess. And I’ve found that when people are open and honest with where God has them, the doubts and frustrations they’re experiencing, and the places where they’re most confused, spiritual growth happens in huge ways.

Neat and tidy is boring.

2. It’s not a formula.

There is no one-size-fits-all system. There is no perfect structure. No ministry without hiccups. You can learn principles from other churches, but copying methodology doesn’t work. What worked in one church likely won’t work in another.

Formulas are boring.

3. It’s not a bunch of “professionals.”

Pastors are not “professionals.” We are on the journey with those we are leading, broken people leading broken people. We are redeemed sinners leading people to the King. I’m thankful that I am free to be who God has created me to be, not masking over the parts of my life I’d rather stay hidden. It’s time for pastors to stop hiding behind beautiful masks.

“Professional” is boring.

4. It’s chaotic.

Church world not always chaos, but ministering to and with real people is edgy. You can’t box ministry in, because the moment you do, you’ll find that the box has moved. Chaos is scary and uncontrollable…ripe ground for faith to grow.

Controlled boxes are boring.

5. The work is never done.

No matter what you do, who you “fix,” what system is just “perfect,” there will always be more work to do. And I love that. There are challenges everywhere you look. And everybody is a work in progress. Pastors included. Sunday is always coming.

Completion is boring.

6. We are the bride of Christ.

Christ died for us! The local church was worth the blood of Christ. The local church, that messy, chaotic, unprofessional, constantly-needing-fixed, uncontrollable, beautiful bride, is worth every ounce of effort I can give.

The bride of Christ is not boring.

Question:

Do you work in/serve the local church? What do you love so much about your church?

 

 

10 Statements Church Visitors Never Want to Hear

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image credit: CreationSwap user Beaty Bass, edits mine

You’ve been a church visitor at some point, right?

Ever heard something you wish you didn’t hear, right off the bat?

I’ve got a few that nobody really wants to hear. Some I’ve heard personally. Others I’ve heard as they were told to someone else.

10 Statements Church Visitors Never Want to Hear

1. Our pastor isn’t normally this _____.

Insert whatever you want in this blank: loud, obnoxious, offensive, long-winded. If you have to explain part of your pastor’s style because you know that outsiders won’t like it, you’ve got a problem. Talk with your pastor about that.

2. We’re full. Sorry. 

Always have a backup plan. Always. If someone sees that your service is full once, they’ll deal with it. But they probably won’t come back if they don’t see a plan you have in place.

3. What are YOU doing here?

Never say this. Never. Your shocked, open mouth reveals your judgmental spirit…at least in the eyes of visitors. When you say this, all they can think is, “God couldn’t really love someone like you.”

4. You can’t serve now…you’ve got to be a member first.

Why would someone want to become a member if they’ve never had the chance to serve?

5. We don’t believe in serving coffee on Sunday mornings.

If you say this, I can only assume you are leading a church in the pit of Hell.

6. What’s your address? I didn’t catch it on the first 6 forms I had you fill out.

Try to streamline the “first time visitors check-in process.” Nobody likes to feel like they’re visiting HR on their first church visit.

7. You want to join a small group? You’ll have to wait until next Fall.

If you ask people to wait more than a month to join community, they’ll often look elsewhere.

8. Here we just care about the Truth. If you don’t like it, you can leave.

I get it. You love the Bible. You love preaching the Truth. But don’t love that more than you love people.

9. Here are the 38 things we do each week as a church.

Simplifying is the key, otherwise you’ll give people decision paralysis.

10. Next time, could you make sure to wear _____.

Fill that in with “something nicer,” “something more relaxed,” or “something that’s clean,” and you’ve offended someone unnecessarily. Creating a “come as you are” culture should be our aim, not creating a “come as I am” culture.

Got anything you’d add?

 

 

It’s not you, it’s me

I had just finished my freshman year in college and made my way home for the summer. It had been a good first year, and countless opportunities were to soon dot the landscape of the next 2 months. But dread and fear and ache loomed in my heart as I stood outside the door. On the other side of the door stood a conversation I knew I needed to have.

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image credit: Flickr user dolfi

I reached my hand up to knock, but jerked it back down, the internal battle manifesting itself as my sweaty palms looked for anything to do besides sweat. This was absolutely what I needed to do, but in the moment I wanted to do anything but.

Have you ever broken up with someone? You knew it was the right decision, but it was hard and there was a part of you still very much resistant to the whole notion.

That’s where I was the week after my freshman year in college.

And yesterday.

But yesterday took the cake.

Have you ever had to go through that whole heart-wrenching break-up routine 4 times in one day?

Yes?

Then you’re crazy. But I’ve got still got you beat.

Ever broken up with 2500 people on the same day?

I have. Yesterday.

As I stood on stage yesterday at Grace, I “broke up” with my church. I explained how God’s leading us somewhere else, to a new adventure and a new people. It was the hardest announcement I’ve ever had to make. As excited as I am for what’s next, I’m equally being ripped apart because I love the people at Grace, whom I’ve served for the past 5 years.

It’s not you, it’s me.

This has been the most difficult decision of my life. Fleeing a burning building is one thing. If a building is on fire, everybody would tell you, “Get out of there! It’s time to run!” But fleeing one you love, one that’s growing, and one that’s full of people you love and care for is something else entirely.

But it’s when we grow comfortable that God often calls us to take a big step of faith. A step of faith that gives us the chance to trust God in a new way that we couldn’t if we stayed planted in the same spot.

Comfort and faith rarely go hand-in-hand.

I will be starting at Long Hollow in Hendersonville, TN, on October 1, as their small groups pastor, working to create a healthy small group structure, investing my life in small group leaders.

I hate walking away from Grace, but am thrilled to be joining the team at Long Hollow. Thrilled for this next season in our lives. Thrilled to pour out blood, sweat, and tears (well…likely I won’t pour out blood…but you get it) to create healthy, authentic, God-honoring communities all throughout the Hendersonville/Nashville area. Absolutely stoked.

Big changes for the Reed family.

 

 

10 Things I Wish I’d Been Told in Seminary

My time in seminary was formative for my spiritual, and ministerial, life. I loved my time there, and was an important part of God confirming my call to full-time vocational ministry.

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image credit: andynaselli.com

Seminary isn’t for everyone, but it’s incredibly helpful for some. Including me.

But seminary doesn’t teach you everything. It doesn’t fully prepare you for ministry, or tell you what hats you’ll have to wear. If you go in to seminary expecting it’ll give you every tool it takes to lead the Church well, think again. It ain’t happenin’. In fact, I learned a ton working in a coffee shop while in seminary.

10 Things I wish I’d been told in seminary

1. Your involvement in the community is vital.

Finding boards to serve on, roads to clean, and festivals to support shows that you love your community, your culture, and your people. It communicates that you care more than just about your local church, but that you see your local church is a part of a local community. It shows others you’re not just about yourself.

2. Rarely will the rest of the world care about obscure theology as much as you do.

This is the truth. You’ll run in to some young whippersnappers who care about transubstantiation. By and large, though, people won’t “care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (Rick Warren)

3. Leadership is crazy important.

You may be a solid communicator, but if you can’t lead you’ll severely cripple your congregation. You’ll struggle to recruit and keep volunteers, build a healthy staff, and build a healthy church culture. You’ll struggle when the issues you’re brought aren’t black-and-white, and when you can’t simply quote a verse and move on. Leading people through difficulties and change will shape your ministry.

4. People will care more about the application you draw from the text than they will you pontificating on the nuances of the author’s original intent.

This goes along with #2 (above), but it refers specifically to preaching. It’s not wrong that you publicly dive into the technical end of a text, but be sure to make a beeline to how people can apply that truth to their lives. Help people leave knowing what to do with a given Scripture rather than just a few random facts about it.

5. Weddings and funerals aren’t just about preaching the Gospel to people who show up…they’re about building relationships.

I was told about the value and necessity of preaching the Gospel at both weddings and funerals, and that if you don’t do that you’ve failed your calling as a pastor. What I wasn’t told was how important both events are in building real relationships with people in the most emotional times of their lives that they’ll remember more clearly than just about anything else. Building relationships during these events well builds a strong foundation for ministry, and helps garnish trust among people in your church and throughout your community. (because people other than your own church members will show up for these)

6. Remembering names will get you a long way relationally with people.

This should’ve been a class in seminary. Seriously.

7. You’ve got to be internally motivated to succeed as a pastor.

It’s easy to coast. I’ve seen too many guys slip through the cracks on auto pilot. If you’re going to succeed, you’ve got to create traction, recruit, train, invest, and stretch. Nobody else will do that for you.

8. People will constantly look at you for spiritual answers.

Constantly. The more you can give them hope, the better. You won’t have all of the answers, but you’re expected to. Constantly. Giving answers as to “why” is good…giving hope in the midst of pain is better.

9. Seminary is a bubble.

The real world doesn’t think, act, or talk like people do in seminary. If you act like a seminary student the rest of your life, you’ll be pushed to the fringes of real ministry.

10. Who you recruit to be on your leadership team (both staff and laity) will shape your ministry.

This is true whether you’re talking about deacons, elders, small group leaders, or kids ministry volunteers, recruit well. Don’t settle for hiring someone who’s not a fit on your team. Take risks on people, but know that they will shape your ministry.

Question:

Have you been to seminary? What do you wish they’d taught you?

 

 

Don’t give me relevancy

For a long season, churches focused on relevancy. They wanted to look cooler, sleeker, hipper, and funner than the options that the world had to offer. Take this world and give me Jesus…the cool one with gel in his hair, a tat on his left arm, and when he speaks, LED lights shine through the thick fog that billows around his feet. The one that speaks in catchy phrases, never offends anyone, and focuses on being slick rather than worshiping the King.

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image credit: Flickr user http://www.flickr.com/photos/friulivenezia/

I wonder if that trend is over.

I hope that trend is over.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being slick. Or using LED lights (we use them at Grace). Or having gel in your hair. Please, Lord Jesus, tell me there’s nothing wrong with gel in my hair.

The problem isn’t those things at all. In fact, the Church should be the most creative, mind-and-heart-stretching gathering on the planet. The problem is when make our aim and end-goal “relevancy.” The problem is when those things become our crutch, and substitute for what my generation is really looking for.

If you aim for relevancy, you’ll be frustrated every time. As soon as you find the coolest lights, you’ll realize that the touring Broadway company that comes through town just smoked you. As soon as you shoot the best video, you’ll realize that Hollywood just released a blockbuster with a budget of $250 million. As soon as you print off the best-looking bulletins that the church world has ever seen, you’ll realize that the start-up A/C company down the road sent out 15,000 mailers that make your bulletin look like the preschoolers colored it.

Maybe relevancy shouldn’t be our goal. Maybe we shouldn’t rely on the “cool” and “wow” factor to draw my generation in. (and I’m thrilled that my church doesn’t rely on these things to be the hook)

My generation wants counter-cultural. Not relevancy.

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The Gospel is relevant. It always has been. And as long as there is pain, frustration, disappointments, failed expectations, failed families, abuse, neglect, and a desire for a more beautiful reality, the Gospel will continue to be. But it’ll never be relevant because of the lights, sounds, and hipster tight jeans.

If we want to reach my generation, counter-cultural should be our aim. Not anti-culture. Not oblivious-to-culture. Not naive-to-culture. And not enmeshed with the culture. Jesus seemed to do this pretty well, living in culture among us (John 1:14), but he stood out because of his love and radical grace.

Lights, videos, and billowing fog are great. But don’t forget the weightier matters: justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23). That’s what’s going to hook my generation.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

 

 

10 Ways to Ensure I’ll Never Revisit your Church

I’ve visited a lot of churches. I’m always looking for ways that our whole church can improve.

It’s amazing what a fresh set of eyes can find.

It’s one thing to get people in the door once. But to get someone to visit again, and begin to call your church their home? Much tougher.

photo credit: Flickr User “The Snige”

We’re still trying to figure out ways to ensure people stick, but there are a few things we’ve learned that will guarantee someone won’t come back.

10 Ways to Ensure I’ll Never Revisit your Church

1. Offer no easy way to plug in to community.

Don’t tell me about small groups. Make me wait forever to plug in…or make me do extensive work to even figure out what kind of groups you offer.

2. Don’t be welcoming in the parking lot.

Just do your job, don’t speak to me as I walk in, and offer a bit of a “it-is-early-on-a-Sunday-morning” scowl.

3. Don’t acknowledge I’m in the service.

Give no head nod to “first timers,” “visitors,” or “folks just checking us out.” In fact, just speak to the inner core, the “members.”

4. Acknowledge me too much.

Call me out and have me stand up. Ask me to publicly share my name and darkest secrets.

5. Don’t give much thought or care to your kids ministry.

People don’t care if their children are safe, watched after, and learn the Bible. Nope. Let them run amuck.

6. Pass the offering bucket twice.

Or thrice. And shame me into giving you money.

7. Don’t share the Gospel, or challenge me spiritually.

Because that’s not why people come to church is it…to be stretched to grow spiritually, is it? Oh, wait, maybe that’s one of the main reasons they show up…

8. Ask me to give me your email address, then spam me.

Overwhelm me, starting on Monday morning, with news from every single ministry your church has ever offered.

9. Visit me at home.

Show up during dinner time, if you can. Or while I’m trying to put my son to bed. That would be ideal, please. Our generation loves the random church-member pop-in when we aren’t even sure we like your church. Love. It.

10. Pastor: disappear as soon as you finish preaching.

Go back to the greenroom. Or Starbucks. But don’t position yourself in the hallway. You are a diva, after all.

Note: If you want visitors to return, be warm and inviting. Challenge people to grow. Offer various opportunities to plug in and serve. Then get out of the way and give people the chance to explore.

Question:

Ever had a bad experience while visiting a church?

 

Christian Fatigue Syndrome

Growing up, I went to church (I know…that’s a theologically loaded phrase. Just hang with me) a lot. A lot. (read that last sentence slowly for dramatic effect, please)

image credit: CreationSwap user bokeh20

On any given week, we had Sunday morning services, Sunday school, youth choir, discipleship classes, student ministry, Tuesday night outreach, Bible drill, Royal Ambassador’s, and Friday night at the gym. Sprinkle in the occasional Saturday brunch, outreach event, and Judgment House, and our lives revolved around being at the church building. (I’m incredibly thankful for the commitment my parents made to raising me in a godly home…it set me on a trajectory that would shape my life in massive ways)

I remember vividly one late Sunday afternoon sitting on the back deck grilling with my dad. My little brother was swimming in our blue kiddie pool, and mom was there taking it all in. I felt guilty the moment this thought passed through my head, but I let it pass anyway. I guess I was just a little devil child.

I sure wish we could just skip out on going to church tonight.

As I thought it, fire from heaven spit down into my eyes and scorched me.

Turns out, though, the rest of my family was thinking the same thing. We weren’t trying to be heathens, choosing to indulge in our sin rather than worship Jesus. We just all wanted to be together as a family and relax…ahem *Sabbath*…instead of cleaning up, putting on our “Sunday best,” and driving across town to our second worship service of the day.

Maybe you grew up in that sort of environment, too. It’s not that churches set out to heap burdens on people and create guilty feelings when they even think about not attending a Sunday evening service. “Stuff” just happens. One good idea gets thrown on top of another, and before you know it, every night of the week is loaded with a different event.

The Simple Life

“Simple church” (HT: Thom Rainer) doesn’t happen unintentionally. No church drifts into simplicity. Currents take a church towards complexity. Towards an increasing number of functions, events, and opportunities to “go to church.” Since each of these events is linked with a grand idea, a dynamic leader, and the heart of a person who wants to lead people to Jesus, they’re incredibly difficult to stop even when the timing is right.

“Simple” churches give families the time to invest in one another. Time to serve their community. Time to enjoy a Sunday Sabbath. Time to minister to their neighbors. Time to invite people into their home. Time to be the church, rather than simply go to church.

Complex churches give people “Christian Fatigue Syndrome,” wearing people out with good things and not freeing them up to do what’s best. When people are hit with CFS, they become desensitized to authentic worship, boil evangelism down to sharing a tract, and treat biblical community as just another activity on their already-too-busy schedules rather than the life-giving gift God intended it to be.

Time to quit giving people Christian Fatigue Syndrome.

Question:

What does your church ask you to do? Is it increasingly simple? Or complex?

 

 
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