I have been in church pretty much every Sunday since I was born. I have gone to different kinds of churches in different places. I have experienced worship and sermons from various people and places. I have gone to camps and conferences and revivals and mission trips. And I spent 15 months as an intern at a church. I guess you could say I have a lot of experience with church. I'm no expert, but I think I can speak from what experience I have had.
About a year ago I found myself serving in ministry 6 out of 7 days most weeks, sometimes more. On top of attending church on Sundays (both services my church offered) I was helping in the nursery, leading a middle school girls' small group, involved in young adult ministry, attending the young adult small group, helping at youth group, serving at the Saturday Night service, and so much more that I can't even begin to list here. At one point I stopped and thought "Why am I doing all of this?" I wasn't doing all these things to worship God or grow closer to Jesus, I was doing them largely due to routine and appearances. I was warn thin and my personal life was beginning to show it. My life was showing signs of unraveling at the seams. After wading through this dilemma within me, I realized that I had to choose between my sanity and the ministries I was serving in. I had to step away from some things I was involved in.
When I began to step away from things there was some tension. People questioned my walk with God. They gossiped about what was wrong with me or how I was living my life. I tried to ignore the things I heard about myself that were not true, but it's not always easy.
Now I am again re-evaluating the ministries I am involved in. There have been things going on that I don't agree with. For the most part they aren't big, ministry ending things, but they are important none the less. There seems to be a huge focus on planning and recognition that I have noticed and a lack of being the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth. We are called to love people, not plan events to get people involved. Follow where the Spirit leads, not forge our own path. Give over control of our lives and our ministries, not be as involved as possible in everything. If we love people, God will bring the increase. And without the love of Christ running through us the people that come to that perfectly planned event will not want to come back. When we follow where the Spirit is leading us, we don't have to go through the hassle of cutting a new path and risk the peril lying ahead. And it is impossible to give 100% when we are trying to divide our time and energy into too many things.
The American church has it all wrong.
I look to the mission fields around the world for the true meaning of what Jesus is all about. They don't have beautiful, clean and fancy church buildings, they take the gospel to the city streets where the homeless need a true Savior. They go to the orphanages where the children need a Father. They give food and clothes and basic necessities to the needy who need to know the Provider. They go to the shut ins and widows who need a Lover. They provide medical care to those who need a Healer.
What are we doing to show the world the Jesus we serve and what He can do? It's not about people knowing our names or a perfectly executed event at church, it's about loving people. Even if it's not the homeless or orphans we can reach, there are still lost and dying people all around us, literally, that need to know Jesus. I want to challenge you to break the mindset of many churches and truly love people the way Jesus did.