I have been "in" church for the better part of my life. When my grandmother died several years back we found an attendance chart from when she used to teach the 3 year olds at a church that doesn't even exist any more. My name was on her roll. I didn't miss a class. Like I said, I've been "in" church for a while. I've been "in" ministry for over 15 years now. That means that before cell phones, laptops and the internet, I was working "in" the church as a pastor. Though my roles and locations have changed, the "in" church and "in" ministry part hasn't.
You could say that my view has been from a center pew in an auditorium surrounded by others who are "in" church trying to figure out how to "grow." My world view has been a view through stained-glass windows. (Although I've never been at a church that actually had stained-glass windows!)
I have tried to live "by the Book," doing my best to be a "good Christian."
Lately I've become more and more frustrated and disenchanted with a few popular phrases - "in church" and "in ministry." Doing our best to lead/serve this incredible group of people at Live Oak has given Karrie and me a fresh perspective on a few things. We've been challenged. While we have been involved in some amazing churches in the past, we have asked the question, "But what are we DOING?"
Going to church. Check. (Of course, that's my job, so I have to go!) Praying. Check (Every once in a while ... when I need God to do something for me ...) Reading the Bible. Check. (Especially when I need proof that what I'm doing is ok.) Loving God with some of my life. Check. (All of my life is a bit much, don't you think?) Loving people. Semi-check. (I mean, we love them when we're told to or when the church has an "event." That counts, right?)
Seriously, we're doing pretty good, right! We're IN church and we're IN ministry ...
The thing is, I get the feeling that I'm not seeing things the way I'm supposed to. Honestly, most of us aren't. It seems to me that we are spending more time learning how to be "right" and "in" instead of practicing how to love "out." Since when are we supposed to be IN the church? I thought we were supposed to BE the Church. Since when are we supposed to be IN ministry? I thought we were supposed to be DOING ministry. Since when was it important to be IN? I thought we ... the Church ... were supposed to be OUT. You know, OUT serving people, OUT loving people, OUT living the Gospel for people, OUT of the church building BEING the Church DOING ministry.
I know this is a tired rant, one that people say all of the time, but I need to say it again today, if not for anyone else, for myself.
I'm tired of spending time DOING church instead of BEING the Church. I'm tired of spending time IN church trying to placate the others who are IN church instead of loving and serving people OUT of the Church. I'm tired of learning how to be "right" instead of learning how to love others. I'm tired of spending time keeping and sustaining programs instead of loving and leading people.
I'm tired of being IN instead of going OUT.