I go through ecclesiastical crises on a regular basis (they occur primarily on Mondays for obvious reasons). I’m sure that this is further evidence of my fallen nature, finite understanding and probable deep seeded character flaws. My most recent ailment was the tiresome pastoral struggle to keep people inspired to follow Jesus.
A very dear friend of mine; a mentor named Don Jones once mused “Why don’t we cancel Church for the summer? Nobody comes anyhow! With all of the vacations, grad parties, lazy mornings, car cruises, picnics and the like; nobody’s here!” He was clearly speaking in hyperbole and apologized for his candor after making the bold statement; yet his words and frustration resonated with a teenage David J. Hardie. I understand him even more today as a Pastor.
Church work is hard.
I know it’s really, really hard to do construction work (I’ve witnessed the limp that my father hobbles along with as he saunters down the stairs and off to work at 3:30am in the morning) and I am not belittling any other profession (other than graphic artists: cut your hair, move out of your parent’s basement and get a real job you dirty hippies) however Church work is a different kind of difficult. It’s a riddle wrapped in offering cards, topped with board meetings, budgets and attendance sheets.
If the goal of everything we do as Pastors is to point people to Jesus and entice them to fall in love with him and be like him more and more each day; we have chosen a daunting task. Think about it, how do you make a married couple fall more in love with each other? For some couples you wouldn’t really have to do all that much, just find them a room and let the cards (or clothes) fall where they may. For others it would seem that there is almost nothing that anybody could do that would help; the relationship is seemingly doomed, let’s just try to salvage the kids and hope that the onetime love birds can be civil at weddings and funerals.
Really, I’m askin’ here: How do I entice Church people to love Jesus more? How do we spur people on to a deeper walk with their savior? I’m well aware that this is the Holy Spirit’s job, and I often wonder what the point of the Pastor really is.
My greatest enemies aren’t the haters (you know who you are) it’s the apathetic. It’s the empty seats, where once plump derrieres filled them. Going to church doesn’t save you, but it does mean something. A general rule of thumb when people disappear from church for an extended period of time is that “things are not alright” to some degree or another.
I posed the question to my wife (know that this thought was formed from the youth ministry/psychology query “Do violent video games make kids violent or do violent kids play violent video games”):
Does going to church make us love Jesus?
Do people who love Jesus go to Church?
The answer is probably “Yes.”
But if we look deeper I believe there is some truth to wrestle with here.
I may have missed the point; I realize I could be choking on the hypotheticals and the semantics. What I’m learning is that some people really love Jesus (I want to help facilitate their growth and desire for him) and others like Jesus (or at least what he can do for them). With the latter I may always be striving to solve the riddle; begging the Holy Spirit to rock their world and reveal Himself to them.
Is the True Church comprised of people who ardently love Jesus and the local church a conglomeration of people trying to find their way? I know it’s a hospital for sinners not a country club for saints; yet how do we address the issue that the infection of apathy is spreading all through the hallways?
People are busy; I get it. Summers are crazy; don’t I know it! We all need a break; I hear ya…..
Why does it seem like some care so much and others could be barely bothered? Some are willing to die for this and others can’t get out of bed to fellowship with the brethren and corporately commune with Christ.
Riddles, riddles, riddles……….