Churches are SLOW

Goodness churches are slow.

Unfortunately, as much as it drives me nuts, I’m not entirely sure it’s a bad thing.

Now, first of all I should say, I’m an incredibly fast person. Once I discover a problem, or even something I’d just simply like to implement, I go about implementing it. Immediately.

And as a missionary with a parachurch organization and the blessing of my immediate supervisor (for some reason christianese dislikes the term “boss”), I could go about things quickly without issue. I simply made them happen. I would imagine the for-profit world is similar, sometimes.

But a church is different. At a church, it’s not just about the staff and what they want to do. In fact, it seldom is. The elders have to approve things and, sometimes more importantly, the congregation has to buy in. The primary goal of the pastors is well defined from the get go, and it doesn’t change: shepherd the flock. Not to come up with new directives and awesome projects, through that can be part of it—but it’s always second tier to the primary objective.

Shepherding is, you know, herding the sheep. Unfortunately the pastors can’t run ahead, out of sight up to the top of a mountain, and hope the sheep catch up eventually. The sheep might figure it out and get there eventually,* but it’s more likely they’ll get lost. They can lead, and point the sheep in a good direction, but they can only move fast enough to stay just out in front of the dang sheep.

I had concerns going to work for a church in America when I came back. And all of my fears thus far have turned out to be painfully accurate. But my fears were not so much that the whole system is broken, just that I might never be able to survive the system. That is certainly proving itself to be the case.

Goodness churches move slow.

*You’ll notice the metaphor God uses is sheep and not bloodhound. The flock (and I’m part of it), is not generally assumed to be particularly bright, or have any idea where it should go.

People Die on the Front Lines

I’ve been to the front lines and I strongly want to communicate, it’s not all that great up there. And without the people behind the front lines, there are no front lines. The smallest role is absolutely essential to what happens from the comfort of home, to the beach behind the lines, to the hospitals near the front, to the trenches.

I’ve been to the front. A cubicle, a 401k, and a water machine seems awfully comfortable from there.

Now I’m not saying no one needs to go, people need to be on the front lines. I am saying, however, that we romanticize it an awful lot in our minds and even our media.

"Mine!"

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, 'Mine!'” 

― Abraham Kuyper

Serving In the Mundane (Colossians 3:17)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

A significant majority of meaningful ministry is done in the terribly mundane. The driving across town, two hours both ways, just to encourage someone. Or carrying things across a church building. Or having God-honoring interactions while standing in line to get your phone fixed.

Some people only believe they can honor the Lord when they feel they’re being used to their full potential. And don’t get me wrong, it’s an awful lot of fun to feel like you’re using your gifts for the Lord. But Jesus was a servant. And we’re called to serve. And the servant takes care of the mundane. From taking out the trash, to stopping and helping someone even when he’s in a hurry.

In the name of the Lord Jesus, and with thanksgiving.

Avoiding Foolish Controversy (2 Timothy 2:23)

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 2 Timothy 2:23

Such talk leads either to a split in the church, or eventually to heresy. People start out arguing decent points about minutiae we can appropriately disagree on. But they end up, by way of arguing, digging in their heels and eventually forsaking the gospel in order to prove they’re right and the other person is wrong.

Have nothing to do with conversations crossing such lines.

When correcting people gently the Lord “may” grant them repentance (vs. 25).

But he might not.

Kingdom Kingdom Kingdom Kingdom

There is a YouTube video of Steve Ballmer (the then CEO of Microsoft) standing on stange and slapping his hands together saying, “Developers developers developers developers.” It was amusing enough to have become a pretty big internet meme with a four minute song made in its honor (a catchy one at that). Ballmer is a weird dude, but he was right, for Microsoft, at that time, it was all about developers.

A lot of my time is spent fighting against the common theme in churches where they want to see their name glorified. They want eleven campuses of Blue Hill Community Church. They don’t want to plant 10 churches, they want 10 churches all in the same network so they can look out and say, “mine”.

But it isn’t theirs. It all belongs to the Lord. He is the only one with the right to look out and say, “mine”. We, as churches, or organizations, or whatever, need to be kingdom minded.

Kingdom kingdom kingdom kingdom. We were not created to glorify ourselves. We do not live for the glory of the name of our church network, or head pastor, or to prove our elders are the best. We exist to glorify the name of Jesus.

We have to think Kingdom. Always.

And often that means giving up control we never really had, but nonetheless desperately cling on to.