Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What are we here for? Putting 'you' into church.

I know I haven't exactly written in this thing regularly... and I know nobody else is actually reading it. But I'm going to write anyway... I'm still thinking about the book I read on church leadership. John wants to read it but he hasn't had time to get past the first couple of chapters. He agreed with me that it seems valid and he wants to finish it if he ever has time.

What is our aim as a church? What are we really here for? To provide everyone with a nice morning's entertainment? To make them feel good about themselves? To get them in and out the door in 60 minutes flat so they can get on with their day assured that they've fulfilled their religious obligation without any real involvement on their part? To give people a place to chat with their friends over coffee? To tell them exactly what they should be thinking and doing, and to sternly correct anybody who seems 'wrong'? To give them things to think about during the week? To help them grow? Your answer pretty much depends on what kind of church you go to, and what your general expectations are from 'the church'.

Our mission is basically to be a church for everyone who wants to be with us... we say it every week, in our rather lengthy creed that basically breaks down into 'everyone is welcome here'. We mean it. We actively invite many people who would not be welcome in any other church in the area, and we are the richer for their presence. But it's such a wide-open invitation that it can easily turn into 'this is the church where you don't have to do anything to change yourself because you're just fine the way you are...' What we really want is to be the church where people are helped to become the people that God wants them to be. It's a place to become more fully and completely 'you' in the image of God. That doesn't mean you have to be a carbon copy of me, or John, or Pastor Becky, or anybody else you might see in church this week. If you were doing that, you wouldn't be being 'you'. God made us all unique individuals with completely different gifts, talents, and abilities... and when you add everyone together it makes an incredible whole. But not when people sit there and hold back. If you only put half of yourself into church, the puzzle is only half complete, and it feels like there are still a lot of people who are just sitting there and thinking that's all they need to do. :(

I'm not a sitter... I'm a doer, which should be pretty obvious by how many different hats I wear in the church. I'm in the choir and involved in the Worship group (and my part there seems to be becoming church decorator!), I'm on Missions and serving the homeless every Thursday, and I was asked to be the church clerk and part of the Executive team. That last 'hat' was not one I chose for myself, and it fits the least comfortably... I avoid responsibility in my life, especially financial responsibility! But it has to be done, and accepting the responsibility is part of growing up. All in all, I'm so busy that I couldn't possibly take on anything else... which is why I hesitated a full thirty seconds before I told John about the new bible study class at church. I love doing bible study and I really miss being part of a small group who are learning together (rather than just filling some special purpose in the church).  I couldn't go last night - I had to go to a special musical rehearsal at the same time - but John went, and I figured I'd join him next week.

Only one problem. Turns out I wasn't quite correct about the new class. It's not a bible study group - it's a class to try to develop some new leaders so that they can HAVE more bible study classes later in the year. He's not quite sure whether that's something he wants to do, but he'd be good at it. He's always talked about how they trained him to lead classes and he had to do that stuff before, and he's considered getting involved in it, so now here's his shot. Time to put his money where his mouth is and see what happens... I'm sure he'll do fine. But he's going to have to do it without me! Makes me feel bad that I led him there, but I am not a leader of anything, no matter how many different jobs I take on in the church.

Teaching is not something I feel equipped to do unless it was a craft workshop or something. I've never had any formal Christian education at any level, and I'm completely ignorant when it comes to matters theological.  I love DOING bible study in small groups, but I wouldn't know where to begin when it came to LEADING it. I get completely tongue-tied if somebody puts me on the spot because I don't have the required vocabulary to put my thoughts into words. All I really know is what my heart tells me. I connect with God on an emotional heart-level that is very hard to put into words. I know God talks to some people's minds, but not mine. (Read 'The Five Love Languages of God' some time... fascinating stuff, and super easy to read.) And I don't have a steel-trap mind for trivia like quoting chapter and verse. Quite the opposite - I have great difficulty in memorising stuff like that. Names and numbers just don't seem to quite make it into my brain. I once had to get a new PIN number from the bank because mine vanished away overnight and it was impossible for me to remember it. I am absolutely abominable with names and faces too... it's embarrassing -  I call everyone 'lovey' and 'dear' etc because it's easier than digging in my memory bank for five minutes and trying to find some kind of association to bring their name back to me when I've forgotten it and I know I'm SUPPOSED to remember! But that's wandering way off the track... except that God just didn't put me together that way. It's just not who I am...

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