I posted the following article in our newsletter, but then had some more thoughts, so I added them and did some editing.  Take a read, let me know what you think-  God bless you!

Love,
Rick

Are we too busy?

Sometimes we are so busy going to church we forget to be the church.  The church is not a building.  The real church is made up of believers from all walks of life from all around the world.  It is people, not structures.  Our Western culture has done a great disservice to living what the Bible says and has reduced it to a place we visit a couple of days a week.   I feel like many churches today have become a business where the senior pastor is the CEO and the board runs the house of worship like a store we would shop in or a place we are entertained.  Not all churches do that, but a majority do.  It’s all we know here in the U.S.  When you read the Bible you don’t see the structure we have created.  You see a group of people that gathered to worship and then scattered to live it. The “church” was an everyday lifestyle of loving and caring for others while being connected with our creator.  They didn’t isolate themselves to a small little fearful group, they met together in homes, broke bread and helped each other – then they engaged their culture and the world around them with a lifestyle like many others didn’t have. 

Having been  pastors on staff for many years we experienced a very subtle drawing away from what God really wanted for our lives to a packed schedule where all of our friends and people we interacted with were at the church.  Our only friends we did stuff with were believers, we missed the boat.  We were doing good things like prayer meetings, worship services, Bible studies, etc.  but were they “God” things?  There was one “O” of a difference.  We slowly became oblivious to the world around us that  we were supposed to be reaching.  Why?  Because we didn’t have time to spend with anyone else, not even our own family.

How many of our friends don’t know Christ?  Do we treat them like targets?  Are we just waiting to invite them to church and hope they come hear the message?  Or do we actually take off the religious “notches on the Bible” mentality and really care about our neighbor, co-workers and circle of acquaintances?  Being a friend to someone because you want them to be recruited to your religion is cheap and insincere.  Loving someone because God created them and they don’t know him yet, works wonders in the heart.  It’s all about Jesus, not us or the church we go too.  We know many people that have given their lives to Christ and believe in Him, that have never set foot in a church building.  An orginazation didn’t die for us, and it isn’t coming back for us.  A savior did, and when he comes back he is bringing the church, a people not a building.

The church demanded more and more time and effort to keep at the level it had grown too.  So much so that we spent most of our time putting out fires and trying to keep the ministry together.  The bigger it got, the more money it needed, and the more politics that needed to be played.  It was a huge machine where people became numbers and agendas became clouded.  It began to grow inward, something Christ is completely against.  Jesus is all about others, he is all about going after those that are lost.  He is all about spending time with people that most church folks would be uncomfortable with being around. Jesus never brought people to the building, he brought the church to the people.  He knew that the temple didn’t save anyone, only God could.  In our day, church is nice, but it doesn’t save anyone.  It fills a need for social reasons, and from time to time a teaching situation.  However, personal interaction and one on one relationships do far more for showing Christ’s love and character than a formal meeting with a talking head.  Outside of the four walls of the building we call the church, real life takes place.  It is here that we should be engaging the world around us with the way we live, talk, act and love others.

One thing you see in Jesus is that he was available.  He was available to the sick, the destitute, the lonely, the sinners, and to his heavenly Father.  He made time for all of these.  He never let church gatherings get in the way of loving people, in fact he rebuked his disciples on a few occasions when they were concerned about getting to the next meeting and neglecting the needs right in front of them. 

Many years ago I got a call from a friend of ours that was visiting an elderly gentleman at a nursing home only a few blocks from my house.  It was late and I had been at church till late that night.  The phone rang and I let the answering machine pick it up.  She explained that this gentleman needed a visit tonight.  It was 10 pm!  He wanted to talk about getting his life right with God.  I listened and blew it off.  I was tired after all that ministering.  I watched some Television (a star trek re-run) and then went to bed.  All night I tossed and turned.  Then that morning around 8 or so I called her back.  I asked what room he was in so I could go visit.  She got quiet.  “Rick” she said, “He passed away last night”.  My heart sank.  I had been so busy with “church” that I neglected to be the church to that man.  I missed an opportunity to help the man get things right with his creator because I was doing “good” things.  I will have to stand before God for that someday.  I vowed that very moment that if the Lord wanted me to talk to someone anytime of the day, I would.  ESPECIALLY people that I didn’t see on a weekly or daily basis. 

Yesterday morning my neighbor called and with tears in his voice left a message that his wife had passed away a few hours ago.  My heart broke.  My initial response was that I didn’t want to go down and be with him because it was uncomfortable.  I’m not pastoring anymore and I don’t have to do that kind of stuff.  What would I say?  How would he react to my visit?  I wrestled for about 5 minutes and then the Holy Spirit reminded me of my vow.  I got my coat on, put my stocking cap on and slipped on the ice as I walked down to his house.  I’m glad I did.  I hugged him, cried with him and told him I was here for him.  We aren’t that close, but I can’t imagine what he was going through.  I didn’t go to church yesterday morning, I was the church.  Amy baked some muffins and we went back down and spent some time with the family later that morning.  There was nothing much we could say, but I privately prayed for him and his family and asked for God’s peace. 

Maybe we should all look at what fills our time.  Are we being relevant to the world around us?  I’m not saying we shouldn’t go to church. It is really important to have a group of peers that can support one another and be accountable too, but I think we need to bring church to our world. I am saying that maybe we should be active in our communities instead of filling all of our time with bless me club activities.  Are we so busy that we don’t see what is right in front of us?  Honestly, of all the church services I have been too over many, many years, that was one of the best.  Watching football on neighbor’s big screen talking about the memories of his wife of over 30 years and just listening.  Just being with him.  God’s love often times isn’t a huge worship service with all the lights, sound systems and slick pastor messages. It’s living the Bible .   It’s being available for him to use our hands, feet and mouth. I guess the question is are we too busy and …..  are we available?

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Comments
  1. Mark Bailey says:

    Hi Rick. I have been wrestling with this very issue. Something happens with well intended people so that ministry becomes a business and the ministry gets lost in the busyness of the business. And then the business has to start implementing policies and proceedure for everything to govern those whom they are to be ministering too. From there legalism sets in and a, “We have always done it this way” mentality solidifies in our hearts and we fail to see God trying to take us into a new direction within the misnistry he has given us. The only thing I can think of is to earnestly cry out to God to deliver us from ourselves.

  2. Rick Moyer says:

    so true Mark, so true.

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