Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ministry Blues

I'm a little bit down these days. I know that "Revivals" are supposed to elevate--revive--our spirits, but that hasn't been the case in the past few weeks. I've become depressed at the state of our churches and am wondering why we even bother with doing "church" the way that we are in the 21st century.

Our churches are more like clubs, We even have memberships! We haven't made them exclusive (not officially) and generally make membership simple (and meaningless) to attain, but we do gather in our safe little holy huddles and maintain a cloistered division between us and the communities that we live in.

We have set aside the command to make disciples and have contracted that duty to our vocational clergy. If the church isn't sharing the Gospel, it must be their fault. That's what we are paying them for. Unfortunately, according to the Bible, the job of the pastor/teacher/evangelist is to equip the followers of Jesus to share the Gospel with the world around us. I guess that we are not doing a very good job.

In fact, we seem to have complicated the Christian lifestyle beyond what we can manage on a day to day basis. We have program after program on sharing our faith. We move from the latest and greatest program to the new and improved latest and greatest program. When something seems to be working well for a period of time, we get tired of it and want something new--something different. Teaching programs has replaced teaching the commands of our Lord. We are very busy at doing nothing that has an eternal impact--but at least we're very busy. And while we work at our programs, people are going to hell.

It's not supposed to be this hard. The Jews had 613 Laws that they were to follow. Some were "do" laws. Some were "do not" laws. Jesus made it simple. When asked which of the laws was the greatest, Jesus said that the greatest law is to love God with everything that we have (Deut 6-5). Then He gave them a bonus--the second greatest law: Love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18). He said that the other 611 laws (as well as everything from the Prophets) are based on these two.

Jesus didn't leave us with a program to share our faith, He left us with a command to share our faith--no Share Jesus Without Fear; no FAITH; no Drawing the Net; no Monday night visitation programs--just a simple command to make disciples. Go make disciples--students. Teach them to obey the things that I've taught you. Don't worry, I'll be with you. (Matt 28:19-20)

Could it really be that...simple?

I challenge you (again). Tell somebody, "God loves you. Jesus died for you."
Do it today.

John <><


Mike said...

Paragraph 2 points out the big problem.

Sicilian said...

You described well why I sit home from church.
1st 22 years of my life I yearned for church, but did not attend. . . . spent the last 21 years in the club doing everything I thought you should do . . . . now. . . have no interest or desire. . . . when I go. . . . I play on my phone. . . .I just need to stay home.

John said...

I really don't want to discourage people from going to church. The church (the building) is where we gather to worship the God that we love. It is a place for believers. It is a place to grow in our faith and learn about living like and for Jesus.

But it can't end there. The Church (the followers of Jesus) have to be about the work of the kingdom outside of the walls of the church building. This is the part that we are really lacking in.

John <><

Bandit said...

A very thoght provoking post for me. The finite mind of man has gotten in the way of an infinite God. The Gospel of Christ is a simple message that is accepted on faith. Too many S. Baptist preachers have gone from preaching the Bible to giving warm and fuzzy Reader's Digest stories from the pulpit. The Bible feeds the soul and the stories do not. The words, programs, etc. of man cannot replace opening up a passage of scripture and preaching it. In thriving churches, the Bible is being taught.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

Fran said...

Great post - I have struggled with this for a while. It seems when you get to involved in the church - it is easy to loose sight of The Church. Lately I find myself with little desire to attend the church. Doesn't mean I don't love God and desire to minister in other ways- just that I am tired of playing the games and waiting for the next shoe to fall. We as humans certainly have messed up the concept of The Church. Now the question I have to ask myself is am I willing to help change the way it all works - or am I more willing to hide out and just let the other continue playing church? I yearn to be apart of something bigger and better - and will continue to keep my eyes open for that - and if it comes along , will hope that I am not the one to mess it up!!

Claudia said...

Amen, Amen! Spiritual re-awakening comes when people get out of their comfort zones to show the love of Christ, trying hands-on mission they've never tried before. This summer our parish tried new things: we grew a garden and donated almost 700 pounds of produce to a local food pantry that has never had fresh fruit and vegetables; we now have several knitters doing a marvelous prayer shawl ministry; and teams of parishioners go every month to cook a meal at Ronald MacDonald House. We also support many worthy causes such as Habitat for Humanity, a camp for children who are burn victims,and we raise funds to pay the salaries for chaplains who minister to youth in detention centers. Your weariness and burn-out might indicate a need to risk doing something you might have shied away from in your ministry before. I feel the new things that I've tried and become confident in are what keeps me going as a Christian. There's nobody that our parish is unwilling to try to reach with the Gospel. Its manifestation of the Holy Spirit has given me the courage to be a chaplain to the mentally ill in two locked units of our hospital, and, along with someone who has just started a prison ministry, I was one of those who worked our church's evangelism tent on Gay Pride Day. The church is not all about us or our building--it's all about accepting those outside our close-knit group and extending our hearts to them, no matter how different they are from us.

Anonymous said...

I'm more of a spread the word of God through my actions versus words type of girl.