Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-30 that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Why then do we make church so complicated?
We have programs and activities that would make the average cruise ship activities director envious.
We have men’s groups, women’s groups, singles groups, youth groups, coffee shops, concerts, ministry days, outreach events, the list goes on and on.
I’m not saying that any of these activities are wrong or not helpful. The question is, do we know why we are doing them? Do they serve a purpose or are we doing them because someone, somewhere decided that that is how we do church?
I know that the expectations of church shoppers are quite high and the competition is stiff. If the denominational outlet down the street has a gym, we better think about a building program to keep up. We don’t want to loose the families with athletic kids. If our air conditioning isn’t up to snuff, or the carpet is grungy or the seats are uncomfortable then visitors might not return.
My point is that many of the expectations people have of churches and church staff are not based on the Bible. We have often lost sight of what Jesus said we are to be about in an attempt to meet the perceived needs of the people.
The Church’s overarching mission, per Jesus, is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). Do our activities help us accomplish this? Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us to encourage each other to love and good works. It seems to me that fulfillment of these two responsibilities requires more personal interaction than the Sunday morning blitzkrieg at the average church will allow. Sure, we can use resources such as gyms and air conditioners to do the work of ministry. But we often frantically do stuff without stopping to determine if progress toward the goal is being made.
In any endeavor, it is easy to mistake activity for progress. I’ve observed this mistake in both business and religious organizations. Gerbils on a wheel are being active. Salmon swimming upstream to spawn are making progress. The difference is whether or not we are arriving where we should be going.
I have observed in churches that while they say they’re all about fellowship, too often people are so busy getting kids to their proper classes and themselves off to their ministry stations that very little fellowship takes place. Church staff are busy plugging ministry holes left by vacationing volunteers so it is difficult to get in much more than a hello. Often we are more like shoppers at the mall checking items off our list than worshipers in fellowship.
Can we slow down this Sunday morning and really say hello to someone? Can we take the time to recognize the person who is barely holding it together? Can we create an environment where it is OK to be not OK? Can we show the breathless world how to rest? Can we be examples of people who know where to find true rest?
If we stop long enough we may discover that the yoke of Jesus is easy and his burden is light.