Sometimes I get pretty scared about doing ministry. In my life I’ve regularly attended church on 2 continents and since I was a kid I can remember people talking about what they ‘like’ and ‘don’t like’ about church. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to escape our checklist mindset of church.
I recently attended a prayer gathering that coincided with the end of Ramadan. I don’t know much about Ramadan but I believe it’s a fairly significant period of fasting and praying observed by Muslims around the world. The purpose of this gathering was to pray for Muslims everywhere. I was there to lead a short worship time. Throughout the night we heard a number of testimonies from mostly former Muslims who had found new life in Jesus.
They were powerful stories, and they made me feel a bit uneasy.
One man told of how he ran for days through treacherous terrain attempting to escape his country because he was afraid that this time the authorities wouldn’t stop at torture and imprisonment. He made it out, but not everyone from his group did.
Another man spoke passionately about wanting to return to his country to share the Gospel with his people. They had a group ready to go, but Christians there are being slaughtered and it would not be safe for them to go at this time.
(Side note, please pray for the Muslim world. They need Jesus and the believers there need encouragement. www.30-days.net)
So we serve the same Jesus, right?
It sure looks pretty different here.
The thing is I don’t necessarily think that we have a bunch of disingenuous Christians here. If we do that’s not really for me to judge (though I do all the time which as a reminder to myself and you is probably a sin). I for one know a lot of extremely passionate Jesus followers and I truly believe they would go anywhere and do anything for God.
But personally, I just can’t shake this checklist mentality from how I approach church. I have my worship leader checklist. I have my service flow checklist. I have my audio mix, visuals, greeters, ushers, checklists. I don’t mean to, and sometimes it’s not really there but that would be a rare case. I suck, I feel brutal, but it’s the truth.
In October we are launching a new service at my church. I’m the Creative Pastor for this new service. I feel the pressure of not just my own, but hundreds of people’s personal checklists. Will it be cool enough? Will it be just the thing that the 20 year old is looking for to get back into attending church? Will it be innovative enough? Will it “work”?
We’re too comfortable here in North America, yet this is where we are and that’s not a mistake. I’m not calling for tougher times for Christians or less technology and distraction in church. As with anything that has to do with following Jesus the important thing here is the posture and focus of our hearts.
When we’re thinking about ourselves we come in with a checklist.
When we are fully focused on Jesus and His Kingdom the checklist is gone.
Once again the bible says it much better than I could…
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. Philippians 3:7-9 (MSG)
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a rightspirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (ESV)
Will we go on “Consuming” or will we ask Jesus to “Consume” us?