I went to church this past Sunday at a church where nobody knew me. Just as a visitor…no responsibilities or others looking to me for an answer.
It was really nice.
You notice different things when you’re just one of the people in the congregation. I suppose I was like most folks in the fact that I wanted only a few things out of the service. I wanted to laugh one good time, find something in the sermon that meant something to me personally, and I wanted my children to have a good time. That was it. Yep, I was that guy – the guy ministers complain about all the time: the consumer. But I noticed something by the end of the service. The pastor was trying so hard. I felt bad for him. I’ve tried that hard before. It sucks.
I see arena-style church services everywhere I go. But never before have I been so disillusioned with them. These are the ones where the guy or girl gets up in front of everyone. They all face the same direction and watch Pro Presenter backgrounds. Everyone is trying so hard to engage a lethargic group of people. I’m personally in a the midst of a radically changing paradigm. Much of the professional church world is consumed with its own progress. And that progress is most often tied to “nickels and noses.” Money and attendance. In fact, the success touted by many churches over Easter weekend had to do with attendance rather than heart change.
As a minister, I think I’m pretty much done with that game. I have two new goals now. One has to with my job as a minister and on has to do with those to whom I am serving. My new job description is this: to partner with what God is already doing rather than “starting” something that others will find appealing. Honestly I’m just too tired to do that any longer. And for people, my goal is to help them realize what God thinks of them and assist them in doing the ”greater works” that Jesus talked about. It’s not to get them to sit down and listen to me. It’s to help them listen to God. I can’t help anyone anyway.
I’m not sure where that is going to lead me. But I plan to enjoy the journey.