We asked our bloggers what 3 things they thoughts pastors wish their congregations knew. This is how they responded.
- You will never be good enough.
I think the greatest impediments to sold-out, wild abandon discipleship in most churches can be traced back to how church members view God’s grace. Namely, they believe in God’s grace, but don’t necessarily think it lands on them. I can’t tell you how many times I have had conversations with people about serving, volunteering or leading and I hear: “I just don’t think I am the kind of person who God would want doing that….”Or we’ll have conversations about giving, and I will hear: “When I get my finances figured out…When I have more money…Then I’ll start tithing/giving….”
Here’s the truth: You will never be good enough. You will never be ready. You probably won’t have enough money. You are probably the worst person in the world for the job. Which makes you perfect in the eyes of a God who loves using not-good-enough people to do God’s work and will in the world. God is in the business of using misfits to demonstrate just how amazing grace really is. If my church members all embraced this, I am convinced that we would be an absolutely unstoppable force for the kingdom of God.
Imagine a sold-out group of people who knew they were the wrong choice in the eyes of the world, but the right choice in the eyes of a loving God who chose them. That would be something, wouldn’t it?
- You were meant for so much more.
I really wish that my church members understood just how precious they are in the eyes of God. I wish they knew that they were created with unmatched and untapped potential. I have so many conversations with people who tell me stories of diminished living, safe choices, weakened faith and less-than plans. The church has outlined in great detail what Christianity is against, but hasn’t spent nearly the same kind of energy detailing what Christianity is for. Those of us who follow Jesus can usually describe who we aren’t, but can’t seem to imagine who we really are.
Listen. Who you aren’t—isn’t interesting. What Christianity is against…it’s not interesting either. Not at all.
I want my church members to realize what it means to live into their potential. To approach their life of faith, their Christianity with open hands rather than closed fists. I want them to fully realize that Jesus came in order for his followers to live a more abundant, fuller, bigger, expansive, larger-than kind of life.
Imagine a church full of people who stopped living for the six inches in front of their face—who lifted their gaze from the sidewalk beneath their feet where they were too busy just putting one foot in front of the other. Imagine a group of people who lived into their God-given potential to change the world, share the Good News, and love, give, share, laugh, pray, sing and dance their way to joy. That would be something, wouldn’t it?
- The Good News is bigger than that.
I wish my congregation truly grasped just how huge the Good News of Jesus Christ really is for a world that desperately needs a word of hope. I think it’s so easy for churchy people to get used to the same faces, the same pew, seat or table each week in worship, and to secretly (or not so secretly) wish things would never change. Far too few of us churchy folk seem to be asking the questions: “Who is not here, and why?”Further, far too many of us appreciate the idea of evangelism or inviting those who are not a part of our church family to journey alongside us as we stumble after Jesus…but not the practice.
The truth of the matter is that Christians have grown comfortable with a version of the Good News that fits the shape of our safe little molds. Our version of the Good News looks like our preferences in worship…Our little groups…Our particular customs that are geared toward insiders…Our ideas about who is allowed “in” and who is not…The Good News is bigger than that. The Good News of Jesus—the kind of news that sets captives free, gives sight to the blind, restores fortunes and raises the dead—is so big, in fact, that it blows up our carefully drawn boundaries, our imaginary boxes and even the seating arrangements in our churches on Sunday mornings.
Imagine a church full of people who are so concerned about one lost sheep, they are willing to leave ninety-nine to go find her. Imagine a church where we ask the questions “Who is not here…and why?”and then we actually do what needs to be done so that those who aren’t coming to our church want to be there. It might mean that we would have to (gasp) change the way we do things…or who is in charge…But if we did…
That would be something, wouldn’t it?
Leon Bloder is a preacher, a poet, a would-be writer, a husband, a father, a son, a dreamer, a sinner, a pastor, a fellow-traveler and a failed artist. He is talentless, but well-connected. He stumbles after Jesus, but hopes beyond hope that he is stumbling in the right direction. Leon has been married to Merideth for 22 years, is the father of three awesome boys, and serves in ministry at the First Presbyterian Church of Eustis in Eustis, Florida.