Full confession: I stole this idea from my friend Loreli, but I didn’t ask her so don’t say anything. Also, writer’s block is a thing. Sometimes when I do get a writing idea I talk myself out of it. I think, “I should say this, but that sounds real close to a conversation that I just had with a church/pastor/board, and they will think I am talking about them. So can’t use that.” Pastors know this dilemma when it comes to sermon illustrations.
Here is where my friend Loreli comes to the rescue. She started posting “I don’t know who needs to hear this…” memes on Facebook. It was an effort to give advice without targeting anyone specific (her children), so in that spirit, I present “Hey church…” for all of us (not anyone specific).
Hey Church – You need to mend your relationships with each other. Pastor to congregant, person to person, older to younger, you to them. All of you. It is pretty hard to say you are good with God and your church is healthy if you have issues with His kids. Those broken relationships (even the ones where you are being passive aggressive with each other instead of openly yelling) hurt you, the church and the Kingdom work that God wants to do in and through you and your church. So fix them or at least do all you can. Offer forgiveness. Extend grace. Ask for forgiveness. Set things right.
Hey Church – “Somebody ought to do something about that” is not an acceptable response to a problem. If you notice it, God might actually be asking you to do something about it. Newcomer standing alone? Go over. Not enough helpers for VBS? Volunteer. You get the idea. Noticing and pointing out problems is not really a Spiritual Gift. God wants to use you to help the church move forward.
Hey Church – You really need to look at your schedules, decide what that says about your priorities and then make adjustments. I know, I know… but here is the thing. Our Heavenly Father asks us to order our lives including our schedules around Him and His Kingdom. We were made to worship. We were created to serve. We are designed for community and fellowship. We are called to be disciple makers. All of us, not just some of us. Does my schedule reflect those priorities? Maybe my kids don’t need to be involved in every activity and maybe I don’t need to binge another show and…you get the idea. God and the things of God need to be at the center of our lives, not off to the side until we have time.
Hey Church – Open your circle of relationships up a bit. Most of us, if we are honest, talk to the same folks every week at church. Most of us, if we are honest, haven’t had a new person in our small group for a while, if ever. There is the lunch crowd we go out with after, that hasn’t really changed. We have the same people over – if we have people over. That has to stop. Your church is filled with lonely people. They show up and they smile and say, “Hi,” but they are lonely and longing for fellowship. For meaningful connection. We need to make sure there is room for everyone, and that’s just the folks inside the church. We also need to be ready and willing to make room for folks currently outside who will join us.
To quote my friend one last time, “I am not sure who needed to hear that.” I suspect most of us including myself need these reminders from time to time. If God nudged you around any of this stuff, please respond to Him. You and your church will be better for it.
Director of Leadership Development and Church Health
Free Methodist Church in Canada