What Not To Say

The church I serve is going through a rough time.  Period.  They know it. I know it.  And I’m hedging a bet, that God knows it too.  They’re trying something new…a few things are getting moved around…ownership is being questioned…and it is MESSING WITH SOME WORLDS.

So this morning, by 10:30, I’d heard every manner of What Not To Say that you can imagine, either in conversation, email, or unsigned note, conspicuously left on my desk.  But the thing is, this rough time, isn’t unique.  And the questions they are asking…and the comments that are being thrown about…aren’t unique either. Like…

…”Who pays the bills around here, huh?  We do.  So we should get a say.”

Actually, we all ‘pay the bills around here.’ Each gives, as they are able.  One, does not hold more weight than the other (remember the widow?).  And when you were younger or maybe as you get older, there were those – and will be those –  in the church that ‘foot the bill’ for you (that’s IF you wanna look at it that way). The reality is, we don’t give because we want to ‘get a say.’ We aren’t building a college library or a community center.  We’re building a Kingdom.  Or a Kindom.  We give, because we believe that the work of the church is important, that the promises of God should be spread around unabashedly, and because we know that we have been called to give a portion of that which we have received.

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…“Yes, we need young people, but…”

It is always, “Yes, and…”. Not once did God say, “yes, but…”.

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…”They can’t tell us what to do.”

No.  They can’t.  But when the dreamers are dreaming and the do-ers are excited about the future of the church in this little city …I would hope we’d all want to be part of that.  My God.  You were once dreamers too.  Maybe you still are?  Let’s do this together.

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…”I’m too old; why do I need to care about this?”

Because you matter.  You matter as much as the 3 year, the 33 year old, and the 103 year old.  That’s the thing about the church.  But you can’t go on and on about how your point-of-view is never considered or how no one ever listens to you…and then, REFUSE TO SHOW UP.

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…”they keep messing with my Sunday school [or my Worship or my pew or my…].”

First.  It’s not your Sunday School.  It’s a cliché, but it’s true: this is God’s church and thus, I would venture to guess, God’s Sunday School (or worship or pew or…).  None of us own it (refer to statement #1).  That’s a consumeristic understanding of church; not a spiritual one.  Sunday School is one TOOL that we have for disseminating God’s grace and love…which also happens to serve coffee and have epic potluck dinners once a month.  It is not a social club to which you pay dues and it is not exclusive, in which it BECOMES church.  Sunday School should stretch you, not affirm what you already know.  Sunday School should rile you up in such a way that you can’t wait to get to worship and give God thanks for the way things have just ‘clicked’.  And then, Sunday School should equip you, so that when another, asks you about your faith and wonders what you believe, you will have a frame of reference for discussion and invite them into that question and wondering (which, you can’t do, when you’re locked inside ‘your’ room).

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…”if you keep doing this [thing that I do not like], I’m leaving.”

Fine.  Veiled threats aren’t my thing.  Do what you need to do.

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I get that these questions and these statements matter.  I know about the pain and yearning that girds them up.  And I know there’s a whole generation of folks who feel like they’re losing something.  But let’s not forget that there’s a whole generation of folks that feel like they never found it, too.

You are making this SO hard.  And I don’t mean, just for your leaders or your dreamers.  I mean, you’re making it hard for you.

(And for God.  Though I’m hedging a bet that God can take it.)

Who taught you that the only way to do church…was to fight and feel frustrated ALL. THE. TIME. and claw for ownership?  Surely not Jesus.

Who told you that you weren’t worthy of love or that strangers couldn’t pray for you the way your friends can?

Who showed you that to ‘be church’ meant that there was a right way and wrong way to do things? That worship could only happen at a certain time or that fellowship dinners needed to include chili?

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And really.  Are you sure you wanna pass these things on to the next generation?

This has been going around Facebook today…and it’s funny. 🙂

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