Church On Purpose

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.

TGIF

TGIF: Reflections from the week that was…

Monday is usually reserved for our team staff meetings at OCEC – a time for us as pastors and leaders to get together, hangout, talk about life and ministry, pray and generally forecast for the things to come.  While in the past this time has been a dreaded “information download session”, our team and meeting dynamics have shifted which has created an excitement, if ever there could be such a thing, about staff meetings.  This week we didn’t have a staff meeting because we have chosen to forego our meeting time(s) on the 5th Monday of the month.

Monday was spent in prayer and fasting, seeking God and His divine leading in life and ministry.  I spent a majority of my day in my office, listening and playing music, reading, praying, thinking, and sitting in one of the oversized microfiber chairs in my office.  I realize that it has been far too long since I last “chilled” for a day, relatively secluding myself from the distractions of the world that be.

Monday night my family went to Kaiser Hospital in Clackamas, Oregon to spend time with Stacy’s father who was recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  Though Stacy’s father and I have not always seen eye to eye, I can say that I have grown to really appreciate him as a person, his perspectives on this world, his faith and his sense of humor…the guys’ freakin’ hilarious.  Though in bed with oxygen and IV’s, he invited the kids into his “first class” hospital bed for a tour of the buttons.  A cheap replica of a Disneyland ride, the kids had a blast.  (Please pray for Stacy’s father, Ted, as he continues to heal from this illness)

Tuesday was a day of meetings.  Morning meetings.  Afternoon meetings.  Evening meetings.  The best part of my Tuesday took place at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Oregon City.  I was invited by a friend to play basketball with a group of fellas that get together every Tuesday at 8:30 pm for a time of remembering and reenacting the “glory days”.  Let me go on record as saying…I light it up! I have NEVER played basketball so well in my life.  I was no less than 7 for 10 behind the three-point line in addition to hitting almost everything from the perimeter.  Not bad for a has-been or more accurately, a never-was in his early 30’s.  The dilemma?  Not sure if I will go back next week.  The chances of me having another night like that are nil and the fellas will figure out that I’m really a hack.  What to do?

Wednesday was spent on the phone.  I think I have spent more time in phone meetings these last couple of weeks than at any other point in my life.  For the first time since the installation of cell phones in my life I went over on minutes to the tune of .45 a minute.  Crap!  I’m gonna scramble to see if I can change my plan, add minutes and save what pennies I have in my savings account.

Thursday was again spent mostly on the phone.  I had a lot of conversations with some great people.

Thursday afternoon I got to have lunch with my fellow sojourner Brian See.  Nothing quite like a good Quizno’s sandwich with one of my best friends to kick my day into high gear.  Brian and I spent time catching up, looking at ministry, talking about health products (mostly cleansers), and thinking through this crazy thing we call life.  Note to self: Gotta do more of that!

Thursday night was The Inn, our 18-30(ish) young adult gathering for our church.  God knows how much I love the people of 97045 and of our church.  I am so blessed to be the pastor of our group; a chance to live life and do ministry with some of the most amazing people ever.  It’s hard to believe I get to do this as a vocation.  The worship last night was awesome.  The message was engaging and challenging.  Communion rocked.  People responded, stepped up and are ready to make a difference in their communities and world.

Today is Friday.  I’m hanging out at home, taking my girls to the ear specialist for a follow-up appointment and tackling my “honey-do” list for the week or month…or year?!

Until all hear,

Andrew Andrew