Over the years I have come to realize that although the things I do most often have a purpose behind them, there are many things that have become routine; things that I do because that’s what you do. For instance, when was the last time you brushed your teeth and really considered each of the reasons for dental hygiene; flossing, brushing and rinsing with mouth wash? Sure there is the unspoken common courtesy on fresh breath and that in and of itself is a very valid reason for brushing one’s teeth, but I would venture to guess that most of us have come to a place in which brushing our teeth is more habitual than anything else. Usually the habit of brushing is met with a stark reminder of the reasons why we practice good hygiene just before or immediately after a visit to the dentist.
While recently reading a book for one of my Seminary classes I was faced with this same type of question, but for the church.
Has the “art” of going to or doing church become habitual for us?
Sure there are the underlying benefits just as there are for good dental hygiene, after all church is good for the soul (pun intended). What’s more is it’s a chance to fill up, right?
When we go to church we will likely experience some level of social interaction, some form of non-participative auditory message reception, a few songs that we dub as worship, a chance to fulfill our tithe obligations, an opportunity to read the bulletin, program, worship guide or whatever derivative of the same the church has come up with for the order of service and announcements, the exchange of pleasantries and maybe more.
As a child growing up and now as an adult with a family I often find that I go through the same routine of getting ready for church, going to church, doing church, and eating after church before heading home to download from my time at church. Our family has a habit of getting up, eating breakfast, grabbing clothes, getting ready and heading out just in time to not be too early, but maybe avoid being late as well. I cannot think of the last time we spent time talking about why we go to church, have a church, do church and the like.
We just do.
Now maybe you’re reading this and thinking to yourself that I am an anomaly and you would be right, but likely not for the reasons you would be reading or writing about. You could also be reading this and asking yourself how a pastor of a church could feel this way and that is a great question. After all, haven’t I been charged with the task of serving and leading the church? If so, am I part of the monotony? Am I to blame for the habitual church where we switch it to auto-pilot and go about doing church, understanding that there is value and merit to church without really ever giving intentional thought or effort to what church is really about? If you were to ask me here and now I would have to say, “Guilty as charged”.
Ernest Hemingway once said,”Never mistake motion for action.” This is profound in so many ways. Just because we go to church and do the church thing, we ought not mistake our motion for action. After all if we are merely hearers of the Word and not doers, aren’t we then just going through the motions, never meeting our faith with action?
Isn’t it time that we are a part of a Church On Purpose? A Church that does church on purpose, with a purpose and for a purpose?
Though I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, I will be exploring this idea further over the next few days, weeks and months.
Thanks for taking the time to give me your feedback as we journey through this thing called life and ministry together.