Last night, as America's election results began to trickle in, the Canadian immigration website crashed. Apparently, too many were just looking to get out.
This is a rhetoric that we never used to hear. We used to admit that we would be disappointed in one result or another. We used to talk about how important it would be for us to make sure our voice was heard in some other way. But in recent years, we've given up on all of that and decided that our best response to disappointment...is to move. It's a powerful statement about how far America has fallen.
Not just our country, but our church, as well.
You see, this is not just a political thing, although we are more bold about such statements during political seasons. It is also a church thing, though we never quite call it this. It's this entitlement that our current generations are feeling to have things exactly as they desire them to be, without actually having to work for them to be that way.
People are leaving the church for the same reason they are threatening to leave the country - because they don't like ______. You fill in the blank. They don't like the way their church responds (or doesn't respond) to real needs. They don't like the way the preacher prepares his sermons. They don't like the music that the worship team picks on Sunday mornings. They don't like the way that that one particular elder prays. They don't like the color of paint in the foyer. They don't like the temperature the thermostat is set at. For any and every reason under the sun, people are picking up and moving out of our congregations. Overwhelmingly, these are not for issues of theology, but of personal interest, emphasis, or consideration.
And it's killing our communities.
We used to be a people determined to fix what was broken around us. We used to be a people willing to roll up our sleeves and do something. We used to be a people who would notice the gaps and stand in them. Now, we're a people who pick at the gaps until the whole thing crumbles. And then we move on because all we see is ruins.
We need people - in our churches and in our country - who are willing to stay. We need people who can embrace their disappointment but also be energized it. We need people who can look at the big picture and still see the small details.
If you're upset with the way that your church responds (or doesn't respond) to real needs, be the person in your church who responds in the way you think best. If you're upset with the way the preacher prepares his sermons, start a small group or a Bible study and invite others to do the Word with you. If you're upset with the music that the worship team picks, suggest something. Or crank up the radio in your car on the way out of the parking lot. If you don't like the way a particular elder prays, use his prayer time as your prayer time. If you don't like the color of paint in the foyer, pick up a paint brush. If you don't like the temperature on the thermostat, volunteer to help. You may not change your church, but you'll impact your little part of it.
But only if you stay.
If you're upset about America's election results last night, be the person you wanted your country to be. If you're concerned about the rights of one group or another, go out and love them. If you're concerned about the social well-being of one demographic or another, reach out. If you're concerned about America's foreign policy, find a pen pal. It's too easy to look at a thing so big as politics and say, "Well, my candidate didn't win, so my voice can't be heard, and there's nothing more I can do, so I must just leave because I don't matter." Oh, please. Give up the pity party, will you? Get out there and matter. Matter to someone. You don't have to change America, but you can impact your little corner of her. The government can do a lot of things, but it can't keep us from loving, supporting, cherishing, nourishing, or encouraging one another, and it can't keep us from doing life together. That's how this country became the place that you love so much that you ache for it - by people staying, sticking it out, and fixing all the little things that were broken around them.
Not by moving to Canada.
That's how the church became the place that you love so much that you ache for it - by the saints who stayed, who stuck it out, who transformed their community from the inside out by fixing all the little things that were broken around them.