If the church is designed for doing life together, then it seems pretty simple what one good, strong step toward that ought to be - and no, it's not filling our church calendar with a bunch of special events, whether we "baptize" those events with prayer and worship or not.
It's actually much simpler than that.
What the church ought to be doing is keeping a social calendar of its members' events.
Put your kids' ball games on there. Dance recitals. Put what time you walk your dog in the morning or when you like to go for a run. Add your anniversary or your birthday. Write down the day you're making your famous chili. Share the days that you're going in for medical testing or times you're going to spend hours in a waiting room. Weddings. Funerals. Days that you're working in your yard or around your house.
What I'm saying is - if we are supposed to be a people who do life together, we ought to be doing our lives together. Not some shared church life where we still, at the end of the day, go our own way and live in relative isolation from one another.
Imagine the bonds that are formed in the humdrum of watching your kid's soccer practice with someone you're fellowshipping with. Imagine how your kid feels when these other persons keep showing up for them.
Did you know a lot of our young people are leaving the church the first chance they get to make an autonomous decision? The first time they get to decide for themselves whether they're going or not, they choose, well, not. And a lot of that has to do with the relationships they aren't forming in church any more.
It used to be that the church was multi-generational, but not any more. Now, most churches have children's programs. In fact, many churches define themselves by their children's programs. It's a time when the kids are removed from the rest of everything and taught a lesson in a classroom by one teacher, a teacher who often changes every few weeks. The only time most of our kids are seeing someone in a church is during the brief fellowship time before or after service, when their parents are usually shushing them and telling them not to interrupt adult conversation that might be happening. Then, when they are in the service, they are told to be quiet and to not disturb anyone or anything. Then, we send them out. No wonder they're leaving the church; they aren't really connected there.
Think about how that changes if your church members start showing up for your kid. Practices, games, performances, recitals, shows, competitions, etc. Imagine if the persons you stand around talking with in the church foyer for three minutes a week became a constant presence in your kids' lives. In your life.
I have to be honest - I love it when I go to the grocery store and turn the corner and run into someone I fellowship with. I love it even more when it keeps happening multiple times in the same trip. By the third or fourth one, I'm like, "Hey, it's church day at the Walmart. Bill, Luke, and Donna are also here, and they're just the ones I've run into already!"
Imagine if it wasn't a random occurrence to run into your brothers and sisters in the course of your daily life. Imagine if it wasn't rare for that to happen. Imagine if you were so intertwined with one another that it was just expected that someone else would be where you are.
Now, now, I know - there's a danger here, too. I'm not blind to that; you're probably already seeing it, too. But it's not inevitable. Not if we have the love of Jesus in our hearts. We'll talk a bit more about it tomorrow.
In the meantime, I just want you to start thinking about this idea, to start thinking about what it would be like if your church kept a social calendar of stuff that's already happening, rather than a bunch of special events the church itself is planning for you. I want you to start dreaming of what it would be like if we started showing up for one another in the lives we're already living.
This is what I dream for the church.
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