I sometimes ask engaged couples, “What are you willing to do to make this relationship work?”
- Are you willing to make sacrifices in your career?
- Are you willing to give up controlling all your own money?
- Are you willing to share your weekends with your new family?
- Are you willing to spend holidays with your in-laws?
What are we really willing to do to be a healthy, faithful church?
I often share the story of a guy I met at a New Church Development conference a few years ago. He was a ruling elder who had paid his own way to Florida to learn about building up the new church he serves. During a break, we had this conversation:
Me: So tell me about your church.
Elder: Well, we meet in a school which is kind of a pain because we have to set up the chairs every week and the atmosphere doesn’t do much for me.
Me: What’s worship like?
Elder: I’m not crazy about the music. I prefer traditional hymns and a pipe organ, but our music is a little wild. Lots of drums.
Me: So, you don’t like the atmosphere and you don’t like the music. And you paid your way to come to this conference, so you must be committed to your church. Why are you part of a church if there’s so much you don’t like about it?
Elder: (Face lighting up) Because I’d give up all the things I like about church to see all those 20 and 30 something come through our doors. I can tell that they don’t mind setting up their own chairs. They like the music. They are meeting Jesus. Isn’t that why we have a church? To make new disciples?
This brings us to the same questions I asked yesterday: Why do our particular churches exist? To provide a location for our funerals? Or to make new disciples?
One of these answers is more prevalent than the other in every congregation.