I’ve had some very interesting conversations recently about summertime and the church. People are busy, busy, busy. When the summer is upon folks, our schedules just really get out of control. We are going, going, going.
And so what happens from a ministry perspective is this. It’s tough to get things done, it’s tough get schedules planned, it’s tough to get events taken care of. People are just busy. And it’s not just a summer thing, it’s an entire year thing.
In Petal, there’s school and sports and hobbies and family and the beach and everything. This true for both children, youth, families, everyone.
And here’s the biggest change. In years past, church dominated folks schedule, especially here in the south. People placed church plans and church events over personal, family, and school events. And that’s not the case anymore. I put it like this to other pastors – if we make parents choose between t-ball and church, most folks are picking t-ball every time.
It is what it is. It’s the reality of where the world is and is headed. Complaining about it as churches and pastors does no good. What are we going to do about it?
What the church would like, to be honest, would be for you to be less busy with your stuff, so that you can be more busy with our stuff. Church stuff. Church events. I think that we in the church don’t want you less busy, we want you less busy with stuff that keeps you from being busy with our stuff.
And I don’t think that’s right either. You know what I want? I just want folks to be less busy. To have the chance to just breathe. Not less busy with their stuff and more busy with my stuff. Just less busy.
We’ve seen a shift in culture, from “modernity” to “post-modernity.” People aren’t focused on institutions and structure like they used to be, they have shifted towards experiences and their own freedom. Authorities don’t matter. The Encyclopedia Britannica was edited by experts, Wikipedia is edited by you and me. Everyone is an expert, everyone is free!
You can see (if you can read it) some of my explaination off to the side. The things that used to matter, don’t matter any more. What matters? Relationships.
And the church is isn’t set up from that. We are programmed and structured and scheduled. And people aren’t like that anymore. And with what little free time they have, they are going to cram as much life as possible into it.
So, the church’s schedule and events are good, only in that they fit into free time available or mean something to the individual.
The “church” is not set up for that. We operate, most of us, out of a programing mindset. We want you in worship. And education (small groups or Sunday school). We want you on Wednesdays. We want you on Sunday nights. We want you at meetings through the week. We want you at church events. We want you busy, busy, busy for church too.
And I honestly don’t think that’s what folks want. But that’s all that the church knows how to do. It’s how we are set up.
The culture is shifting under our feet. People don’t want businesses. They want community. They want support. They want relationships. And church is set up most time to make you busy.
Not to give you relationships.
We’ve got to shift. We’ve got to move from a program/event mindset to a relational mindset. We’ve got to be authentic Christians that understand that faith and discipleship are not bound to specific times and place. Yes, worship still matters, greatly. Yes, small groups still matter, greatly. But, the most “pastoral” thing I did today was run into an old friend today and drink coffee and chat about life for an hour.
Faith happens all over. This shift we have to make as the church is this. Relationships matter. Relationships are how we are changed, how creation is changed, how lives are change. We as the church have got to move beyond the 1950s method of locked in schedules.
We’ve got to live out the Gospel in coffee shops, and Walmart, and baseball games, and the beach, and everywhere.
We’ve got to be more simple. I ask people at Asbury to commit to 3 things. Weekly worship, weekly small group, and daily service. That’s it. You do those three, you are being very, very faithful.
I don’t want you at church every night. I want you living life, forming relationships, being Salt and Light.
I think we as the church have the answer, but we are asking the wrong question. Jesus is what matters, Jesus changes things. The question is not why aren’t you busy for church, but the question should be is this – how have you seen Him today and how have you shown Him to others.
We have the answer the world needs. We’ve just got to ask the right question.