A Church Bucket List for 2013?

Note:  The idea for this post is from the creative and talented Joe Morrow, from a comment he made in a previous post.  I can’t wait to see where God calls him – and the other inquirers and candidates for ordination I have the privilege of serving in 2013.

Kicking the BucketI kind of hate the term “Bucket List” in general because 1) it reminds me of that lame movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and 2) it sounds like a late-in-life thing (i.e. stuff to do before we ‘kick the bucket’) when actually we need to enjoy our lives and do what we are inspired to do now.  Believe me – any one of us could find out in the early weeks of the new year that we have cancer, then spend the following months being poked and prodded, losing our hair and our energy, and finally succumbing before Christmas next year.  As many of you know, it just happened to someone I love.  So let’s get moving, people.  This is urgent.

Every Church has one or more of the following:

  • Official Goals sanctioned by officers, most likely compiled at a leaders’ retreat  (e.g. re-carpet the nursery, add a new worship service)
  • Unspoken Goals sitting in the heads of those people in the pew (e.g. get the officers to paint the sanctuary a color I like; hire a preacher I like; nudge That-Person-I-Don’t-Like off the governing board)
  • To-Do Lists (e.g. send financial giving documents for 2012, schedule liturgists for the new year, start Lenten plans)
  • This-Is-Always-How-We’ve-Done-It Expectations (e.g. “If we could just survive another year . . .”, gear up for another exhausting, soul-sucking church year)

What if we thought of our congregation’s ministry as an adventure?  

What if our church resolutions for 2013 looked more like our personal resolutions for 2013?

Imagine a “Bucket List” (a must do list) for our spiritual communities in 2013. I’d call them New Year’s Resolutions, but we aren’t very good at keeping “resolutions.”

Ideas for your Church’s Bucket List:

  • Spend a Saturday morning (as a church) hanging out at a local laundromat or a local Jiffy Lube and pay for everybody’s laundry/oil change that morning.  (Yes this will take some cash from the Random Acts of Kindness line item in your church budget.  Having this line item in your church budget should also be on your Church Bucket List.)  The purpose of doing people’s laundry/oil change is to serve in a random and generous way.  The purpose is NOT to invite people to your church or to hand out glossy flyers about your Sunday School.  If anyone asks why you are doing this you say, “We are part of the same church.”  Make them ask you the name of your church, if they really want to know.  Believe me, if they are looking for a spiritual home, they will seek you out.
  • Take a cooler full of popsicles to a ball field when the weather gets warmer during a Little League or soccer game.  Just hand them out to anybody who wants one.  Again, don’t wear church t-shirts or share a church flyer with the popsicle.  Just smile and love them and feel great about serving them.  And if they ask you why you are doing this, just say, “We know each other through church.”
  • Challenge every person in your congregation to do some simple act of compassion or generosity for their next door neighbor.  Invite them to share what they’ve done – again out of love, not out of “let’s save the neighbors!” or “let’s target them as potential new members!”  Ideas:  bake them cookies, rake their leaves, invite them to dinner.
  • Schedule at least one regular church event (a Bible study, women’s meeting, small group, Christian Education meeting, etc.) in a public space on a monthly basis.  Get out of your church building.   Hang out in a diner, a bar, a public library, a park, a coffee shop.

None of these ideas are particularly fresh.  But they’re a start.

What ideas do you have for something new for your church that would be fun, gracious, inviting, fresh?   What would shake people up, encourage them to relinquish their fears, remind them they are loved?

Happy New Year Everybody!  May we kick that bucket full of dreams down the road in 2013.

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7 responses to “A Church Bucket List for 2013?

  1. I will try not to be disrespectful, but Really? On this New Year’s Eve I am grieving the loss of church as I have known it, praying for a life-giving transfusion of the Holy Spirit, and working very hard on reminding myself that we are merely the body, not the head. And now I read that tops on the list before she kicks the bucket is handing out quarters at a laundromat or popsickles at a ball field. My friends, my brothers and sisters, the whole earth is groaning for the coming of this Kingdom. Oh how we are missing the point!

  2. Hi Ann – No disrespect at all. We are called to love each other and we in the church need to start somewhere. Maybe they are baby steps or maybe they are monumental steps. But I too pray that the HS drench us with new life. There will always be a church. I am most hopeful but – as you say – God has called us to bring the Kingdom to earth. Sometimes it starts on a playground or in a laundromat or at the well.

  3. Here’s what I appreciate most about your ideas: encouraging us – as “church” to help our neighbors without ulterior motives of “recruiting” them. Be kind and helpful. Serve the neighbor. Trust the Holy Spirit to do her part in their hearts. Thank you for the concrete examples.

  4. Thanks for the hat tip Jan! To this list I’d add a few other possible “must-do’s” for Church this year. Be a teaching congregation. I’ve learned through the years how many unrecognized or under shared skills church members have. What if those with skills who are willing, commit to teaching those skills to another person this year. If you know a language (Spanish or Java), a musical instrument or a job skill let the gathered community connect you to people who want to learn. If start ups like Khan academy have taught anything its that learning does not have to be limited to the classrooms of accredited institutions. Wisdom is crying out on the streets, even at the church’s door.

    Or put a vision trip on your congregation’s must do list. I’m not just talking a trip to somewhere else in the country or around the world to enrich an existing partnership. What if we committed to doing a trip to our own neighborhoods or another one in our same city. Let those in the know be our guides. Eat, sleep, walk in the hood. Come with a pad and paper, camera or voice recorder, ready to listen to the story of at least one person you encounter and with their consent, bring that story back to share with the congregation as you discern how God is leading you to invest in new relationships with your community.

  5. Love this! Have a great year.

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