MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Have You Had Enough?

January 6th, 2009 Visited 2531 times, 1 so far today

Church Aisle Header Another holiday season has come, and one thing is certain—we’ve all had a lot to eat.  I’m not sure where the tradition came from, but what I am certain is that this is not just the season for presents and good cheer, it’s also the season to make exotic dishes in the hopes that family will eat them.

It’s also the time of year where people that would not darken a church door find themselves in the pews singing familiar songs and hearing a message of child born in stable whose destiny was a cross.

This Christmas season, as I sat in my church in the row of seats I practically always sat in and heard the message one more time, I began to wonder not only about the people that come on holidays, but about us as a Christian people.  The question that came to my mind was “Have You Had Enough?”

Have You Had Your Fill?

You see, a lot that I see around me says that many Christians have “had enough.”  Not that they are frustrated or are quitting out of spite, but that they have simply had enough, or have had their fill, of spiritual things such that they can go without.

It’s what goes through my mind when I think of people that just attend on the holidays—that attending that one or two services during Christmas time is about as much as a person needs or can take, and that they don’t need any more of it until the next year passes.

Priorities

We live in a time period where many things vie for our attention—and it seems like there are more every day.  We have places to go, things to do, and you multiply that number by the number of children you have and you can quickly find yourself way over booked.

In my mind, when a family chooses to do a sports activity or promotes a sports event over a church event, that says something about what that family thinks about how important the church event is.  I’m not saying that you have to make service every time the doors are open—though it would be good.

What I’m saying is that if you willingly choose to engage in an activity that occurs at the same time as your regularly scheduled worship service and you don’t see any problem choosing the sport or game activity then I believe you’re making a statement about your inner man.

I believe that you’re making a statement that says “I don’t need to hear from God at this time as much as I or my child needs to be at soccer or football.”

Answer: “Yes, I’ve had enough—or more than I need—so I can go without this one meal.”

Involvement

Many people attend church, but that’s all they do.  They view the church as a place that they should come to and get ministered unto.  After all, that’s why I put my money in the plate, right?  These people miss the point that the church is about ministry one to another, not ministry to them only.

This also has a secondary outcome—those that do feel burdened for the nursery, children’s ministry, etc. will work themselves to point of burnout to keep a ministry going while many able bodied people believe that they don’t have to get involved because someone else will.

They say that 80% of the work in the church is done by 20% of the people.  Is this something that should be going on in the church of God?

Answer: “That was a fine meal, but I can’t help do the dishes or clean the table.”

Missing the Message

This last group is the group that’s doing all the work, making all of the services, but tuning out the message.  This is the group that I struggle with making sure I’m not a member.  This is the group that hears the Gospel message and realizes that it’s special, but no longer feels its power.

This is the group of people stuck in a rut.  They are doing what they always did because they’ve always done it.  They “go through the motions” and do the job, but no longer feel the thrill of knowing that their sins are forgiven, understand the agony of the pain of the One who died for us, and don’t know why they don’t feel anything anymore.

Answer: “I’m full,” they say, while they still have a bunch left on their plate.

God’s Command

God tells us that we can never have too much of Him.  He promises that if we will open our mouth wide, He will fill it.  He tells us to drink deep of Him, and that if we will pursue Him, we will find Him if we search for Him with all of our heart.

While I’m not equating your local church as the only place where you can find Him1, I am saying that a heart that longs to have more of Him will be where His people are, longing to hear what He has to say.

It was said, during the revivals, that the bars had to close, and business on Sunday ground to a halt.  When the Lord moved in people’s lives, people wanted to hear all they could, and lives were changed.

What our Answer should be: “No Lord, I haven’t had enough.  Give me more!”

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  1. Truly, you should be searching for Him daily, by yourself and with your family! []

Comments

7 Comments

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  • Erin says on: January 7, 2009 at 10:22 am

     

    Thanks for the reminder! Great post, MIn.

  • Rachel says on: January 7, 2009 at 1:06 pm

     

    OK, I’m going to try to write what I put yesterday and if it doesn’t take it this time then I give up! 🙂

    I have to work hard not to fall into groups #2 & 3. Sometimes it’s really hard being one of the few who do the work, and I found myself headed quickly for burnout. My pastor made a great illustration about the difference between a candle and a lamp: a candle burns of its own self but a lamp is fueled by an outside source. I realized that I needed to be filled in order to pour out. So I cut back on youth ministry to just Wednesday nights and weekend activities (ie. Friday or Saturday stuff), whereas I had been teaching twice a week plus doing all the extracurriculars. So now I go to the sermon on Sundays and it’s been so good for me and my ministry.

    What’s ironic is that in making the decision to cut back ministry-wise, I rediscovered the joy of the Gospel because I was so hungry for it. It has had a positive impact on my ministry; in His presence I find fullness of joy and then I am able to pour out to the youth group.

    Rachels last blog post..Mini-Hiatus

  • Mary says on: January 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

     

    Wow! What a great post!

    This is the time of year at our church, for the annual business meeting, and all the committees are re-upping for the next year. I’ve resigned as Education chair, just don’t have my heart involved anymore, and time has become an issue as well. I do look around and see the same families serving (your 20/80% analogy is right on) year after year, and I don’t know how they continue without burning out. I’ve always struggled with the verses that talk about young wives and mothers being keepers at home…well, the church is starving for service, and stay at home moms are so available. Volunteers are over-worked, b/c we’re *all* busy!

    I love our church, and how organized it is…but sometimes I wonder if we’re all so involved w/in the building that outreach is something none of us have the time or energy for…

    Marys last blog post..Start the New Year off right with daily Bible reading

    • MInTheGap says on: January 8, 2009 at 11:13 am

       

      Thanks Rachel and Mary. I think that churches are having a hard time coping with the fact that people aren’t coming to us anymore. I think that a lot of them figure that as long as we create a place people will want to go, they’ll come to us and then stick around. The reality is that there are not only many choices, but many more people that don’t have the respect for the church that they once had. So, we continue to do a lot of things the same way we always did, and then wonder why they stop coming.

      I mean, it seems pretty funny when you start thinking “Did the church at Ephesus have a great youth ministry?” or “How many people came to the church at Philippi’s Vacation Bible School?” but that’s the way churches believe they need to be measured. Somewhere along the line we’ve conflated the two things– the ministry and the mission– and we’re now reaping the result.

  • Rachel says on: January 8, 2009 at 3:21 pm

     

    Min, I think what you just suggested is part of the problem with churches today. We try to lure people in by means other than the Word of God. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with VBS or youth ministries or small groups – those are all WONDERFUL things and needed for believer’s fellowship. But VBS eventually ends, kids grow up, families move. If an event or activity is all that is keeping someone in the church, it’s only a matter of time before that person moves on.

    A church must be committed to two things: pure preaching of the Word of God and worship of Jesus Christ. This might not be the recipe for Joel-Osteen-type success but it’s what matters.

    Our youth group is very small (about 12 teens) with an even smaller children’s class. A family with two young girls (ages 10- they’re twins) left our church to go to a local mega-church so the girls could be in a bigger program. The mother has since called and told us she’s not getting fed there and neither are her husband or her daughters like they were at our church, but they don’t want to leave because the girls are having fun and church and have friends. Where are the priorities?

    Rachels last blog post..Mini-Hiatus

    • MInTheGap says on: January 9, 2009 at 8:02 am

       

      Exactly, Rachel. When we’ve gotten to the point that we’re more interested in who is at the church and not our primary purpose for being at church in the first place, we’ve lost Christianity and have substituted it with a club– a place where we all have the same lingo and code words and have meetings, but we’re more interested in horizontal fellowship than vertical.

      We need to wake up and realize the point, or else even “good” churches will find their lampstands removed.

  • Amanda says on: January 10, 2009 at 11:34 am

     

    Wonderful post. I would argue, though, that there’s a reason beyond being spread too thin or having too many distractions behind people dropping out. Or maybe it’s not an argument at all, but an attempt to explain this behavior.

    For new believers church is a magical place, full of love and fellowship with people who “get you”, spiritual things, you actually have things to learn… As we progress in our spiritual journeys those things spoken of in services becomes incredibly redundant and while the people around us may still be just as loving (and sometimes they are not) they just don’t seem very interested in leaving their comfort zones. Smiling and shaking hands, holding potlucks: all very nice, but usually unproductive. I know these things are supposed to promote relations between members and bring about an air of love and acceptance that will draw new members, etc, etc, but there are many of us who want something more- and we are unstimulated spending 4 hours/week listening to the same old service. It’s like being a 5th grader and sitting in on a 1st grade class every day. The only way to progress is on your own. If you can do it on your own, why bother showing up?

    Churches have recognized and tried to address these issues, but I’ve only seen them fail in finding a solution. Much of the blame can be placed on the wayfaring believers for demanding so much, but the church does have a responsibility to its existing members, while the existing members have the responsibility of bringing new people to faith.

    This is the reason I’ve all but dropped out, and I’m still “involved” significantly more than many others. I may be wrong, but it’s a fact that many people just don’t see the point.

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

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