I have been…
…a committed member of the same local church body for the last nine years. Quite frankly, this is the longest I have been committed to anything besides my wife… or my parents, but I guess I didn’t really have much choice there… but I digress.
Over the past nine years,
I have gone through phases, starting with the “they” phase…
Y’know, when talking about the church you are attending you always describe the body of that church using the word “they”…
It’s my guess this happens partly, because your relationship to your church is akin to a committed marriage, so the switch leaves you with feelings and ideas that mirror divorce. You aren’t fully invested in your new church yet because in your heart, there are still living remnants of your previous church, shreds in some cases.
Even in my case, where the previous church I attended literally shut down and closed her doors, I had a long period of adjustment. For me it was more of a death -from which my wife and I had to move on.
So it was “they this”, and “they that”… Then, something happened.
We were asked to work in the toddler room – our one-year-old son was in there – it seemed a logical place to serve – so we committed to it. After a month or two, I noticed a change in my thinking… I wasn’t referring to the church, it’s staff, or leadership as they. “They” had become we.
So, how do I get to this point? What was the key that unlocked to you to the feeling of ownership?
Acting on the Vision of the local body.
When my wife and I made the commitment to become a working part of the church body, we ceased to be, for lack of a better phrase, spiritual parasites.
— Let me explain that quickly– there are those who walk through a church’s doors because they are broken, beaten down, lost, and just needing someone to show them God’s love. Others walk through those doors because they are offended at their previous church, moved to a new city, looking for meat not milk, and etc…
But there comes a moment when you have recovered, grown, and matured spiritually to the point to where you can be a useful part of the body. Yet, nothing happens. You don’t get connected with a small group or fail to volunteer in any tiny way… missing opportunities to get to know your fellow Christians on a more intimate level. Instead of jumping headfirst into the pool, you are comfortable to just watch.
This is where I begin to see a picture in my head of one that lives off the body, but never becomes part of it. This is also a rough definition of what a parasite is. Not pretty.
So, after a few months of just sitting, listening, and catching the vision of the house, we acted upon it. We were not just receiving anymore, we were contributing. We knew, that because we were watching other parents’ children – feeding, changing diapers, and comforting them – we were allowing those parents to be fed by the shepherd set over this body. It was our desire to allow them some breathing room to hear God speak to them without a squirming child in their lap; to rest in His presence.
Now, this doesn’t just apply to children’s workers, this applies to all who volunteer in some capacity or another in the local church body.
We are stepping into the vision for the house we have been added to. I do what I do in accordance to the vision of the local shepherd. Wherever you serve, you do so in accordance with the vision of your pastor. What I’m trying to get at is, that when you submit yourself to the vision of your local church body, you become submitted to God’s authority over that body. That submission grafts you to that body… and you become an important physical/spiritual part… and… Voilà!
They becomes we.
So, if I just volunteer somewhere then I’ll have no problem staying there? Everything will be perfect?
It just so happens that churches are full of people. People are not perfect. Neither are you… Get over it.
The problem is that nowadays, people come to churches expecting the same “perfection” they see on Christian TV… perfect smiles, perfect teeth, perfect hair, perfect music, perfect seats, perfect volunteers (normally unseen), perfect giving (nobody can see you “not giving”), perfect audience (all smiles-well dressed-no body odor-no cigarette breath), perfect, perfect, perfect.
Look at yourself in the mirror.
No matter what you tell yourself, you know you are not perfect.
SO STOP EXPECTING YOUR LOCAL CHURCH TO BE PERFECT!
Sorry for yelling, but… I “get” this.
I understand that no church will ever be perfect.
Granted, the spirit of the church Body, the Bride in harmony with our Holy Spirit will be perfected before Jesus returns, but that is nowhere near the same as saying that we as earthly people will ever be perfect. Your church will be perfect for you when you decide it is… and not one minute before.
Just this morning, my pastor posted a Facebook status that said the following:
Proverbs 29:18 tells us that God has placed in each one of us a vision that is designed to give purpose and meaning to life. The word “vision” carries a lot of truth just as a word. “V”- from one small point the two arms start to widen and keep widening, teaching us there is unlimited possibilities in vision. (1 Cor 2:9) Worship God with arms wide open “V” and watch Him work!
To me, he’s saying that vision starts with the conscious act of opening up your heart to catch what God has set in place for you. Opening your arms is your act of obedience – in effect, allowing yourself to be vulnerable to His vision. Then you can visualize your arms crossing and intersecting with the arms of others also in worship… receiving… loving… connecting… open to His vision…
I cannot force people to get involved.
That’s not God’s way.
So I did not write this blog post to everybody on the planet.
I wrote this to you.
If you’re looking for a way to get more connected to God, catch His vision for your local church and connect with His people.
Volunteer with them.
Make friends with them.
Study the Word together.
Laugh with them over their successes.
Cry with them and stand firm with them when needed.
Become submitted to the vision given to the head shepherd of your local church.
Allow God to graft you into the body.
Then, someday down the road, you’ll look back and remember the day that “they” became “we”…
… and you will have “gotten” it too.