If you know me, then you know I generally have a suspicious take on hip and trendy pastor phrases. It’s just one of my quirky things. I remembering one of those motivational posters from school when I was a kid that said, “What is right is now always what is popular. What is popular is not always what is right.” I’m not saying that hip and trendy phrases are wrong, I’m just saying that *I* tend to meet them with suspicion. It’s about me, not the phrase.
One of those passages/statements is from what I think is a true idea, but perhaps a goofy application of said idea. What I’ll do is show the idea, show what I like, show where I’m a little critical, and then leave with a thought or two moving forward.
I’ve left churches for good and bad reasons. The best reason I’ve left? Moving to a new town. The worst reason I’ve left? Because I was bothered with something and opted not to fully reconcile it. The church was big gigantic so I figured they wouldn’t need me anyways. And I didn’t make much so I couldn’t give much. Now, pastoring a local church, I’m on the other side of people leaving.
When churches have change—and The Chapel has had quite a few over the past five years—people go. Not lots of people (usually), but some. It could be because of their allegiance to the person who left, because of their disagreement with the decision, because (in the case of a church relocating) they have other churches nearby, because the new person brings too much of a different culture, or a mix of all of those. I’ve seen them all in one way or another.
I believe very strongly in decision paralysis. People cling to the idea that the more options you have the more freedom you have. There’s just one issue: many people become less decisive with more options. Pretend you had never eaten cereal a day in your life and I take you to the grocery store. Which one do you choose? (If your answer is anything but Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, you are wrong). Churches fall prey to this. They offer fourteen baker’s dozens of programming and simply ask you to “get involved” in some of them. And then, before you know it, you are a community group leader, a greeter, on a steering committee for the worship ministry, and a table host at the new member’s class. Then the prospective member asks this (horrifying) question:
How do you see me involved in this church body?
It’s a threat level midnight kind of question. . .
Ever rented a car and had the rental company’s insurance? You know what happens. “It’s a rental,” you say. Translation: I can do what I want with it. It can get stolen, broken, crashed, bashed, and destroyed. Why? It isn’t mine. It is someone else’s.
Ok, young and hip pastor, here’s my question: who are your people? When you stand before Jesus and give an account for how you cared for His church and the people he entrusted to your care, how will you answer that?
“Well, I had lunch with every single person who came to my church.”
“I only talked to my friends.”
“I personally followed-up with ever first, second, third, and fourth-time visitor.”
“I led a church-wide fantasy football league.”
This issue is not insignificant, but can be treated as such. Pastors/Elders of churches have to be able to oversee their people; and, thus, they must know what is meant by “their people.”
I care deeply about church membership. Personally, I believe local church membership is an incredibly undervalued part of church life (specifically in evangelicalism). When you join a church you aren’t joining a club; you’re joining a family and an infantry. A group of people ready to die for Jesus. Unfortunately, that isn’t most people’s experience (and has not been mine either).
So this week I’ll share a little bit about why church membership? I kick it off with this video. Enjoy!