Churches are busy—and proud of it, aren’t we? We love to boast about all we’re doing: whether it be on the Web, in worship guides, or even billboards. We’re often proud of “all we offer” to our community. One church I know of has boasted “over 152 ministries for you and your family.”
Most of us don’t go to these lengths to be a “user-friendly” church. However, if we’re honest, we all feel the tension to seek to provide ministries and programs for all ages. Everyone wants to know about our Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, our College ministry, our Singles Ministry, our Senior Adult Ministry, our Bible Studies, and of course, our Men’s and Women’s Ministries. Parents want to know about our VBS, Awanas programs, camps, and youth activities we offer. Before you know it, if we’re not careful, to meet the needs, we have our calendars stuffed with dozens of programs offered every day of the week.
Here are my challenges with this approach to ministry in our churches. First of all, when it comes to discipleship, busyness doesn’t equal effectiveness. Even pastors have bought into the myth that busyness = value. We love to feel needed. We love being problem solvers and crisis counselors. We feel important when the phone rings a lot and we have a lot to do. We enjoy telling people how busy we are. We wear our busyness as a badge of honor. However, if we were honest, we’d admit that much of our activity is driven by the desire to be valued and needed; and deep down, we doubt if we’re making that big of a difference in the world. We may be right! Busyness does not equal effectiveness!
Secondly, what if I told you that our church’s busyness could actually be hindering the movement of God in our world? What if I told you that our church busyness could be insulating our church members from the very people Jesus wants Christians to be interacting with? What if I told you that the essence of following Jesus is leaving the church and going out into the world and being a “friend of sinners”? When Jesus told us to “Go” he didn’t complete the sentence by saying: “Go to church.” He said to “Go and make disciple of all nations.” This phrase “all nations” is literally translated “all peoples”. How can we help “all peoples” become followers of Jesus if we’re down at the church building every day surrounded by other Christians? If we’re honest, many of us have got to rethink what discipleship really means, and we can not define our ministry success by our church busy-ness.
Shawn Lovejoy is Lead Pastor of Mountain Lake Church; Directional Leader of Churchplanters.com; and author of The Measure of Our Success: An Impassioned Plea to Pastors.
Excerpt(s) from The Measure of Our Success: An Impassioned Plea To Pastors, available today on Amazon.