Sunday, April 22, 2012

O Why Not Tonight?

Coming back from Catalyst a few years ago, our worship minister (who is now the lead minister) had an idea: lock the church building one Sunday and instead hold a different type of worship service; one in which the members serve in the community. A bold idea, destined to make people uncomfortable, but designed to reinforce an idea we had been trying to get across, namely, that the church should be every bit as much about doing as it is about meeting.

Not to diminish the idea of meeting together. Fellowship is necessary. But all too often the church gets caught up in the idea of Sunday morning being what church is about, and it's not. That idea leads to insular thinking, instead of servant-minded or outreach-oriented thinking. 

We have done these Sundays, called Operation Serve, at least once a year since. And you know the funny thing? They are one of our lowest attended services of the year. It's amazing. Mention the word service and you're almost guaranteed that only the die-hard people who really get it will show up. People stay away in droves. 

Meanwhile, we have a small team feeding the homeless downtown. We have 5- and 7-year olds picking up trash in a public park. We have a team of mowers moving from house to house trying to get as much done as possible for those who can't do it themselves. In past years we have spent an entire weekend roofing a member's house.

During the event it is tough not to be ecstatic at the smiles on faces as we serve the community. And even having only spent one day in a soup kitchen was a humbling experience. Too actually be able to look into the faces of those who simply have less, to be able to share a meal with them, to serve them, I truly believe brings us closer to the heart of God.

After the event it is difficult to think of all those who didn't think it was worth their time to participate. To listen to people complain about those who were the recipients of good deeds because the complainers didn't think they were worthy. It's tough not to put yourself in a self-righteous position of being a better Christian.

I don't know why some don't want to/like to/choose to participate. This idea is new, it's challenging, it's against our norms. But if not today, when? Because I'll be honest: I've never met a day in which it wasn't easy to be selfish.