Maybe it was because I had been gone a few weeks. Maybe time dragged because I had forgotten all that needed to be said. Maybe it was an anomaly – the result of a busy time of year. Or maybe the announcements at church really had taken up a huge amount of time.
It seems like a strange thing to notice, yet it couldn’t help but catch my attention. As I sat in church this week and heard announcement after announcement, I was convinced they had exponentially grown in length. There were at least two ministries that were brand new, countless invitations to go away for the weekend or spend another night out (it’s a family church, but I’m not sure how people actually spend time with their family), not to mention the revolving slide show of announcements that usually greets us as we walked in (I was late this week so maybe we did without – but I doubt it). And the church is just barely a year old!
Now, I love my church. I have a lot of good friends there and I think we have one of the best pastor teachers that exist. And I get the benefit of all the activities. You want to make sure that everyone has a place to be “plugged in” (And if not, we now have a new ministry to accomplish that!). And you want to make sure that people are both serving and being served. But I have to wonder if its all really necessary Is all the activity contributing something of value and of worth?
Some of the best times of Christian fellowship that I have had happen far away from the church doors. They weren’t the result of planned activities or structured ministries. They came as a result of people who shared a common faith seeking to live life together – To support one another, to love one another, to encourage each other on in our journeys. Life was meant to be lived – not to be a ceaseless barrage of events. I fear sometimes that the modern church spends so much time doing that we’ve forgotten how to be.
The sad thing about the current structure is that you rarely get the benefits of the church body. Everything is so fragmented – there’s one class for one stage of life, another class for the other. You don’t really get to experience the beauty of diversity because you self-select into groups of people with whom you are similar. And that’s o.k. But is it helping us live life of significance?
As much as I can remember from Scripture, Jesus never commanded us to do anything just for the sake of doing. In a twist of irony, it was Mary, the sister who rested at Jesus feet who received the commendation, not Martha who in the modern church would be responsible for the hospitality ministry. And even Jesus Himself often went alone to a quiet place to pray, a privilege we rarely afford to our servant leaders. Jesus’ ministry wasn’t primarily about doing – although He did a lot. It was primarily about investing in 12 men and teaching them how they should be.
I fear that today the activities are a result of uncertainty. We don’t know the right thing to do, so we just do something. We’ve lost our way on what it means to live as the Christian church. But doing something isn’t the same as doing something significant, and eventually the disillusionment of activity catches up with us all.