Monday, December 7, 2015

Church: On Sticking to the Things That Matter

For about the past decade and a half I've tried to stay faithful to the idea that the best way to help a group of people "be the church" is to keep reminding myself what really matters.  It is so easy to get distracted by dreams, visions, plans, and goals.  It is equally easy to get distracted by theological debate, controversy, or political issues that mask themselves as signifiers of true versus false Christianity.  I humbly suggest that God's desire is for Christians and their churches to become obsessed with how they can make the green grass that their feet walk on every day a better place to live.  It starts - and for the most part - ends there.  So along those lines, one of the questions I ask myself often is how our church can continue to stick to the things that matter, and stick with the people that matter, right around us.  

Sometimes it can be difficult to answer the question, "Where do you go to church?"  The other day I was thinking about how I usually answer that question (terribly...which is one of the many reasons why I wouldn't make a great traditional pastor).  But this brilliant thought popped into my head...

We are not trying to be right, better, or different than everyone else. We are just trying to keep it real. 

So true.  Maybe that's our vision statement.  I'm so tired of gimmicks or the next, great movement that will save western Christianity.  In fact, I've stopped keeping track of what's new or next in the church.  I don't want to save the church anymore; just give me real.  Life is busy.  People have jobs and families to care for.  I'm not going to ask them to join my program to save the world.  Toddlers cry and interrupt sermons.  Good people get into bad marriages.  Sickness happens.  Teenagers make bad choices.  Sometimes, you just want to pack a cooler, skip church, and hit the beach.  I don't think that scares Jesus away.

But on the flip side, I have seen great beauty in the simplicity of love shared in community.  We need each other.  In the wisdom of AA, it only works if you work it.  Sometimes all you have to give is your presence, and that's all you really need to bring anyway.  Just show up.  God does the rest.

So if our vision statement is to keep it real, then what follows must be our statement of faith and practice.  Yeah, I know, how low-church of me...

We are a family adopted by God. 

We trust that one day God will make all things new including us. 

We are trying to be in the present what we will be in the future. 

We don’t spend too much time dwelling on our mistakes, failures, or shortcomings. 

We forgive and forget because we have been forgiven much. 

We love parties because the kingdom of God is a party. 

We like inviting others to the party.

That's about it.  Yep, I think we're going to keep doing what we're doing.