Here’s the deal: I don’t have nearly as much time, resources, or energy as I wish I did.
And I certainly don’t have as much time, resources, or energy as my church expects me to have.
Will you come to a meeting? Will you join a committee? Will you come to a picnic? Will you come to clean the neighborhood? Will you join a Bible study? Will you go on a mission trip? Will you help on Sunday mornings?
The list never ends.
I’m just happy to make it to church on Sunday. Literally, that’s about all I can muster most weeks.
But in the churches eyes? You hear the groaning from the staff, “We can’t get anyone to do anything…” “People don’t support us like they should.” “We could do so much more if people just pitched in.” “80% of the work gets done by 20% of the people.”
This exposes a deep disconnect between those in leadership and those who are a part of the congregation.
There’s an assumption from church staff that I have lots of free time that I will give if only they can pitch it to me in a way that will motivate me. And I have an assumption that my church staff just look at me as a body who should be serving more. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
Not the church– the neighborhood
It’s so easy for me to confuse what incarnational living is all about.
At its root, that’s just a fancy word for “living like Jesus.” Jesus, 100% God, chose to become 100% human. (Phillipians 2:6-8) As John 1:14 says, “He made his dwelling among us.” And while he was on earth he chose to invest in things of the community instead of merely hanging at the Temple.
If we are to follow Jesus’ example of how to live… we need to spend way more time with the people of our neighborhood than we do with churchy people.
That’s where the frustration lies for me. The invitation/temptation is constantly to get involved with the things of my church. All I have to do is say yes! Yet in reality, living incarnationally is an invitation to bypass most church involvement for the sake of living like Jesus in my neighborhood.
A realistic pace
Here’s my week:
- Monday – Friday: Get the kids to school, go to work, come home, spend time with the kids, do some chores, spend at least 15 minutes alone with Kristen. Go to bed. Monday night we have community group, [taking time off from that with baby] Tuesday I help with youth group, Wednesday the kids go to Awana. That leaves Thursday and Friday night “open” each week.
- Saturday: Get stuff done around the house. Mow the lawn, weed the garden, etc. We try to do something with the kids like go to a movie or play mini golf.
- Sunday: This is our day of rest. We lounge around a bit in the morning before church. We go to church from 10:30 – 12:30. When it’s warm, we go to the beach.
That leaves very little extra time for other things. And there are a whole lot of voices telling me how to best utilize that time. (More time with my kids, shuttling my kids to sports, I should be working out, take a seminary class, volunteer at the school, volunteer at church. This list never ends.)
We have an infant in our house. Want to know how I want to utilize that extra time? Sleep!
Sure, I could squeeze a couple more activities into that weekly line-up if I wanted to. But I’ve also learned that if I jam too much in there, there’s no joy there. It’s just not a realistic pace for this stage of life. I prefer to leave Livin’ la Vida Loco to Ricky Martin.
Ultimately, squeezing the life out of a busy schedule for the sake of one more thing at church is not incarnationally living, is it?
If I’m really honest… loving my neighbors is really all I can swing.
The question is simple: Is that enough?
What do you think? How should we teach people to balance involvement at church with involvement in the neighborhood? If the net result of ministering to people with full lives is less programs, how could the church impact more people with less programs? What would the roll of church staff be?