Monday, November 29, 2010

Overkill?

Yeah, yeah... I know...it's been forever since I've posted. Frankly, I just haven't felt like sitting down and taking the time to organize thoughts into some sort of coherent order that could be followed by the average reader.

Sorry.

This morning I'm wondering if yesterday's message wasn't a bit of overkill.

It's not often that I get to preach at Hopedale. Maybe I've gotten used to being able to preach freely to people that I don't know so well. I think that preaching to people that you really care about is much more difficult...especially when the message is somewhat of a scolding.

That's not how I intended for it to sound, but I'm afraid that it might have come across that way.
I really do love my church family. But I think that we get way too comfortable with the way we are doing things. Hopedale was a "Pacesetter" church in Missouri Baptist life for the year 2009. That means that we were one of the leading churches in baptisms for churches of comparable size. I think we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 (maybe it was 68) baptisms for the year. Javalujah!

If you figure that we have an average of around 300 in attendance on Sunday morning and work with an annual budget of around $580,000, that means that it takes about five of us and just under $9000 to reach each soul for the kingdom...and for that we're given an award and can feel good about ourselves! Why doesn't this give me a warm fuzzy feeling? Why do I feel like we've become a more of a social club than an effective tool in the hands of Our Lord? (and if Deacons are like Board Members then I'm on the Board at our club)

I hope that you understand that I realize that I am a part of the problem...but I don't want to stay that way. Maybe I got it wrong and the message that I was hearing was just for me. There wasn't the usual excitement as I was preparing the message (actually, I felt pretty uncomfortable). There wasn't the usual rush as I was sharing it, either (again, that feeling of discomfort). One Facebook friend suggested that the "good sermon" comment is like the kiss of death...well, I didn't get a lot of those; a few, but not many. I still don't know if that's a good thing or not.

I'm having lunch with a friend today. I think that he'll give me an honest assessment of how he felt about it and maybe some insight as to how others may have received it. It's been such a long time since I've preached at Hopedale. If it's a long time until I preach again I won't know if it's just the normal long time of if enough people complained about the last time I preached. I think I'd like it better if they would just come and tell me if they think I was out of line.

Maybe they will.

John

3 comments:

Bandit said...

If you prepared and gave the message that God led you to do, don't second guess yourself.

Emily said...

I agree with Bandit. I love your honesty in your preaching... I think a lot of people are shut off to internalize change and that they need to. You at least always preach to my heart, for I like to be stepped on to motivate me to be better... I guess for me, that's what it takes. So sorry that I was sick.:(

David Stone said...

Your struggle reminds me of the 8th Century prophets; who were called by God to give a very hard message to a very hard-hearted people (much like the American Church, in my opinion.) They are sometimes called "the weeping prophets" as well because although they had a very hard message, they preached it with a tear in their eye. It is very difficult to see all of the focus on how to "do Church" better, all the while we are not pushing people to love people and be better. I realize that I may indeed be speaking out of my own frustrations with my current situation I am in. However, there has to be someone who will stand up and tell people the TRUTH that we really aren't all that awesome! I think sometimes we feel that we are doing God a favor my showing up on Sunday mornings, giving our offerings, and serving at the occasional time when someone twists our arm and guilts us into service.

I believe we are in a time of reformation. My advice to you, and myself--plow on!

I'm not sure that anyone will read our 95 Thesis on this "church door," however we are still called by God to "spur one another on to love and good deeds."

Keep on keeping it real, John!!