Welcome to Day 27 of #write31days!
For more information check out the series’ page.
Leading worship, running Sunday school, a morning and an evening service, small group, weekly meetings to prepare for a major church outreach, having coffee with your accountability/prayer partner…it’s very easy to get caught up in that huge organism called the church.
Yes, all of these things are good. But sometimes we are so busy with church work that we forget what it’s all about: we DO church, but we no longer ARE the church.
If you’ve been part of this organism for a while (or maybe even your entire life) you carry your scars with you. Church is a smaller or larger group of people, just people. Human beings with flaws and problems. Ordinary you and me’s that can hurt you, insult you, overlook your talents, abuse your talents, teach you questionable things. Being scarred by people who call themselves Christians – the ones with the message of love – can be really hurtful. So we withdraw.
Yes, sometimes we need to leave hurtful environments behind. But let’s not leave for the wrong reasons and miss out on the beauty a messy group of desperate people can turn into.
God is Okay with No Work
Church normally is a smaller or larger bunch of people meeting once or several times per week to worship, read Scripture and pray. This does involve work, but sometimes it gets a little out of hand.
Of course, we all want our church to be open for everyone. Of course, we want to spread the news to our neighbors and homeless people and refugees. Of course we want to support the elderly, the single moms, and others in need. Of course we want the music on stage to sound professional.
When these ‘of courses’ turn into constant meetings and duties; when Sundays are no longer a day of rest but hard Christian work – then you need to set boundaries.
Church is a place where people meet to seek God, to lift each other up and challenge them in their faith life. Before church and other believers faith is a personal thing, the relationship between God and you.
A relationship that needs to be maintained and taken care of. It can get rooky, there will be ups and downs. Just like every other relationship it takes work and time. But how can you maintain this relationship if you’re so busy in church? No ministry and full church plan will help you fix your faith life.
Saying NO is perfectly okay. The bible talks about boundaries and saying NO does not mean being selfish.
Faith is not about performing – even in a Christian, churchy context – but about being. It’s about discovering the amazing talents you’ve been given and using them WISELY to worship the Lord and bless others with them. Overusing or neglecting them will only destroy them and harm you in the end.
Let the Good In, but also Take It Out
In the last year I really struggled to go to church. I was so busy with my own life, I was dealing with so many things that I didn’t feel like mingling with others. My heart was too empty to sing joyful worship songs. My hands were too exhausted to lift them in praise. My words sounded too shallow to even pray. Meeting other believers and talking about faith seemed like the last thing I wanted in my life.
So I often stayed home, trying to worship, read the bible, or pray.
It was hard.
Pushing through tough times alone can be incredibly exhausting. Finding the Lord in times of darkness and questions and doubt can be a real struggle.
We are not supposed to struggle alone.
Life is hard and full of questions and doubts and darkness – but we have been given each other to stumble through it together. Sometimes with feeble voices, sometimes with uneasy feet, sometimes with doubtful hearts.
So reach out to each other, ask for help. Don’t withdraw from the strength and encouragement that comes from community.
A faith community.
Church is so much more than the building we go to every week. It is so much larger than the few people we gather with on Sundays. It is so much more unexpected than the four-chord-worship-songs or bible verse interpretations.
The Church is wherever people gather in Jesus’ name – in a café, in a living room. In their pyjamas, in their best suits, in their work clothes. In good and in bad times. With honest hearts, lifting up empty hands to the well that will never run out.
Open your boundaries and let the Good come in.
How does your relationship to the church look like? Do you maybe have to do less to take care of your faith life? Do you maybe have to be courageous and reach out to an unexpected faith community?