Saturday, December 2, 2006

Are We Doing Enough?

There are so many things that pastors and staff must be about in the church. Administration & office work, calendar planning, studying, visiting, the many miles of hospital runs(depending on where you are serving), funerals, the many folks who just want to drink coffee with us, and of course dealing with people’s personal desires, wants, and preferences. That adds up to a lot of stuff. And to be honest, there’s never a day where I don’t feel simply overwhelmed by all I didn’t get done during that day.
Each and every day brings me more on my plate than I can possibly accomplish. But I try! We all try! The work of the ministry never ends, does it?
As I think through all of the things I mentioned above(and more), I realize that most of that stuff isn’t what we are to be about anyway. Not ultimately.
What are we to be about? What are our top goals & priorities? Asked more plainly, what does God want us to be striving for; what should we be accomplishing(I’m talking here about all of God’s people – paid & volunteer)?

In Matthew 28 & the Great Commission, Jesus simply stated that we should be about making disciples & all that entails. Things like winning folks to Jesus, teaching, discipling new believers, guiding them in sacrifice & obedience, baptizing folks, and growing God’s people closer to Him. Now please don’t misunderstand me…there’s nothing wrong with softball, gospel concerts, 5th Sunday Singings, and potlucks. But there is a problem with those activities if that’s ALL we’re doing, especially if we allow ourselves to come to believe that those types of programs should be our top priorities.

For years, I have been struggling with the growing reality that we’re not doing enough with God’s people when we have them at church. What makes me say something like that? Well, it’s things like…

• Our Christian marriages are dropping like flies(with many teetering on the edge)
• Pornography is invading a high percentage of Christian homes
• Tithing is a dying practice...slipping away from our young families and young people
• We have to beg & plead for folks to serve and sacrifice these days
• Faith is a foreign word...there's no dreaming, no vision, we're not
shooting for anything.

I could mention many other things that you all could also think of. Our effort at church no longer seems to be making a difference in the lives of God's people like we hope to see and want to see. We have got to be doing more with God's people when we have them at the church house. We have got to get our people back to the place we're their relationship with God really makes a difference in their lives.

* A few things to think about...
Doing more with God's people is a must...and a tough job in 2006, with the attitudes of society and this world. And helping God's people make a difference doesn't have anything to do with doing MORE! There is a very real attitude which says that packing more and more onto our church calendars makes God's people more spiritual. The only thing I have to say about that is, "Who says so?" There's no truth to that in any kind of way. The church calendar rut & rat race has eaten many a preacher and church members' lunch. In fact, so often we preach about the family and spending time together, yet, it's the church and its activities that most often separate families from one another.

Like you, I'm coming to the place where I'm deciding that the LESS we do the better. Our churches are full of activities that not only don't win people to God, but don't grow the saved any closer to Jesus either. I mean...we all have had to endure activities & traditions that had ceased being effective years ago.

I'm currently reading the book, "The Simple Church." The book points out that the fastest growing and most evangelistic churches in America are churches that have adopted very simple processes for doing church and making disciples. These churches don't get bogged down with a bunch of useless activities that changes no one's heart. They're even simple down to the wording of their purpose statement. As I read this book, I get a thrill and excitement in my heart and spirit. I believe this is the direction we need to go in and get serious about. We live in such a busy society, we are busy people, and it's not going to get any better as time goes forward.

I'm an advocate of reexamining church membership. We don't need to be afraid to be very straight forward about the expectations of those that come to Christ & our Church. In scripture, Jesus is very plain about the COST and SACRIFICE required to follow Him. It seems these days...the only requirements for folks in our churches are that they must be able to cook, sing, and fix something. We need to require more of folks who call themselves Christian.
Let's do our best to start making the decisions and changes needed to really make disciples. Let's let go of all the things that don't matter. Making disciples is all that really matters anyway.

Let's get just praying for a change.

God bless each of you. Until then...

Bro. E


Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

Lifeway must have sent exerpts of that book "Simple church" to all the pastors because I got one a few weeks ago. It's encouraging to her this kind of mentality after all the program driven stuff given to churches all these years.

I hear what you're saying, rev, about all the stuff we're doing. The danger we all face is doing "the urgent things instead of the important." Pastors and staff have fed this business to our people and now the calendars are running us. It's okay to have nothing on the calendar, it's called "white space."

More power to you, and keep it real.

jigawatt said...

Hey Bro. Eric! This is James Thomas, one of your crazy youth from FBC Bastrop.

I just found your blog, and I don't know if you're keeping up with it.

Given your comments about church membership and the cost of discipleship, are you in agreement with Bro. Tom Ascol's proposal to this years SBC convention?