A Final Thought About Church And Backing Down

Some people can’t stay away from church.

After calling on church to be the thing that backs down in peoples’ lives (but not always), let’s acknowledge the dog that’s not barking in that assertion: our oppressive time commitments result from opportunities for achievement. And not everybody is swimming in those opportunities.

There are people in church for whom this is the best thing going. Maybe they work fewer hours. Maybe they’re not taking honors classes. Maybe they didn’t make the track team or the show choir. Maybe they’re bored. 

I’m sure lots of people turned away from Jesus because they had better things to do–important things, like burying their dead.The ones who took up his invitation were called by God and irresistibly drawn. And their fishing business wasn’t exactly killing.

The gospel Jesus proclaimed promises sight to the blind, food for the hungry, and freedom for the captive. It’s a message of God’s overturning of the conventions of opportunity and achievement in favor of the castoffs and the bored. Jesus’ message has always been a tough sell for those already winning at life (the demise of Christendom is providing the North American church with a huge opportunity to rediscover this).

There are students I meet with each week who don’t need texts or emails of Facebook posts reminding them what time to come. They’re at the church early, and if I’m not there I hear from them. They have space and a time for it because they don’t have hours or A.P. homework, tutoring, or soccer practice. For many that’s not a reflection of priorities but of opportunities.

Praise God for an abundance of opportunities and the remarkable achievements wrested from them. Also, praise God for the abundance of time in opportunity’s absence. Because that absence is an opening for the church to contribute value. 

4 thoughts on “A Final Thought About Church And Backing Down

  1. Rocky, thank you for starting this conversation. It is an important one and obviously one that has touched a nerve. I love the fact that there are colleagues in ministry out there like you who are rethinking what it means to be church and challenging us all to do the same.

    May we all give thanks for the students who are there for whatever reason they come. May we all give thanks for the opportunity to walk alongside students who are desperately trying to keep their head above water. May we all give thanks for the joy and the challenge that is youth ministry for it is a true gift.

    Thanks for posting!

  2. Rocky: I’ve had this same thought in conversation about busy church members. Often the model of faithful church membership is built around the lives of young retirees for whom the church is their biggest volunteer and social outlet. That can’t be the norm for the whole church. I’ve had members– members who make a huge impact on the world in their day to day lives, love the community of the church in how that supports them in that work– worry that they may not be eligible to join the church because they don’t have extra time in their lives to help with Coffee Hour or teach Sunday school.

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