A while ago a new couple began attending our church. The more they got acquainted with the folks in our congregation the more they loved us. And the more they heard the story of Jesus and His last-day message proclaimed from our pulpit the more they fell in love with the Author of the story.
In a little while they came to me and asked that we move specifically toward their baptism. Sweet music. One of the things that blessed me was the excitement over their new-found insights into the heart of God. This was a message, they concluded, that the whole world needed to hear. In fact, the wife had calculated about how many families live up the road that ran past the church. I’ll never forget her jubilant summary: “Pastor, if we only baptize 10% of them we’ll have to begin a second service every week!” That’ll punch up any pastor’s pulse.
The truth she taught me was this: Maybe as we learn to pray as a church we should also pray that God will give us our restlessness back. Push on our margins. Help us find our place on the team.
Comfort can be a disease. Satisfaction is addictive. The status quo can suck the purpose out of any organization. Predictability is a sedative. Even a Movement can lose its momentum if it loses its focus.
So? Therefore? Maybe let’s re-think our church process. It’s a temptation to think of church as hospice. A place of solace for the terminal. A place to be made comfortable as we wait for the next chapter. A place where we are cared for, ministered to, have our needs met. We are fed and cleaned-up-after. We ring the bell and a care-giver appears.
What about we change the simile to a re-hab facility where we come to learn to live, to function, to exercise, to stretch, to get stronger. We often talk about discipling new members, but we don’t disciple folks best by simply giving them more information. There is a difference between learning and growing. Our assignment is to help them become more Christlike…and we are most like Christ when we are serving others. Studies show that a person who begins to attend but does not begin to serve is likely to drop out within a year. Seven hundred years before the time of Christ Isaiah said that it is in ministering to others that we are healed. (58:7,8a)
Ruthie and I visited a large church of another faith group several months ago, and after being cordially welcomed at the door, the greeter said to us, (we’re first-time visitors, remember…) “Do you folks live close enough that you would like to be part of our greeter team?” I believe those folks are on to something.
By Don Jacobsen