On Being and Doing Church
Years ago, we were discussing starting a small group ministry. One of our former elders suggested that we have our small groups all meeting on different nights of the week, “That way, we can go to a Bible study every night!” We could do church better by just doing church more!
I had a conversation with someone the other day over dinner that made me angry and made me think. I can generally do one or the other of those but not both at the same time. The person who was talking is a special education teacher who works with low-functioning autistic adults (not a job I would want or could do). We were talking about how to get more people involved in church, and somehow the discussion came around to Wednesday nights. Here is my summary of what she said as best as I can remember:
I consider my job my main ministry. It takes just about all my energy to do my job well. While I can’t overtly share my faith with people, I am loving and accepting people who are hard to love and accept and who find very little of either in the world. By the end of the day, I am totally exhausted and have very little energy for anything else. It takes everything I have to drag myself to church on Wednesday night. While I do often get something out of being there, I am also two hours later getting to bed. Thursdays are usually very hard days.
Here’s what made me angry, “Well, if everyone who had a job thought that way, then who would ever be here to do anything?” I think that is a legitimate question. Can we expect all of the work of the church to be done by the preacher (it’s his job) and retired people (they have the time)? All of us really should see our paid jobs as a ministry, a way that we serve God. But all of us should also have special times and ways where we serve in the context of the local church.
Here’s what made me think, “Is it possible that, much like our former elder, we see church as meeting together? Church is Sunday morning (class and worship), Sunday evening (small groups), Wednesday nights (Bible study), and other times (Monday night men’s group and Tuesday morning ladies’ class)? Are we so exhausting our people by meetings that we don’t have the time or energy to meet our world with the message they need to hear? Think. How many of you think your job would be better if only you had more meetings? How many times have you wondered if your job would be better if you met less and worked more? Is there any application here for the church?
As I understand it, meeting together is not what we do for God but what we do for each other. So that we are better equipped to go out and serve God and others. Am I off base here? Can doing church get in the way of being the church?