It happened again this afternoon. I don’t know why I was so surprised or burdened. I guess because I actually care about my friend, a fellow pastor in our area. Long story short, we hadn’t seen each other in a while, but he felt the need to go on and on with me about how busy he was and why. Here’s why that was surprising and burdensome.
Just over a year ago, this fellow pastor moved into the area and came to one of our “being the church together in our community” meetings (you can read more about it on the Church of West Orange website). Well, he was guns blazing that he was gonna be the most committed to cultivating unity among local churches and really give much of time toward that end. It excited me, because we highly value it, even think Jesus prayed for it, even believe it is imperative for the work of God to happen here in our city (read more about why we believe this at the beyond MY church website). I was also suspicious, though. Just a hunch, I guess. Hoping I was wrong, and even thinking I was certainly wrong, we did begin to see involvement and focus from him with the group.
Well, the moment he began to disappear from our meetings and from relationship with us as leaders was the moment that the local church expression with whom he is one of the pastors embarked on a full-fledge let’s-raise-a-boat-load-of-money-and-build-a-building-campaign.
This afternoon, when I ran into him, when he began telling me how busy he had been, his being busy was totally consumed with the fund-raising and administration of the effort. He went on and on about it, which was fine, but at the end of the lengthy explanation, he told me that he really was excited about it. I had my doubts, though, wondering if he was more saying that to convince himself.
Why did I wonder that? Because everything he said he wanted to give his time to had nothing to do with this stuff. In fact, it had done nothing but take his time away from cultivating for unity. The burden came when he made this statement:
“It just excites me what all we will be able to do once we have all this, because we can then begin to do stuff together at this building.“
He began to describe large youth events and the like. Now these are not bad things. But they beg two questions in my mind.
- Do we really need a building to be the church, especially to be local church expressions together?
- Will uniting around and at a building owned by a local church take us out of the same types of community centers and gathering places out in our community where those who are lonely and lost eat and recreate and rest and read, and isn’t that where we need to be the family of God?
It was ironic, because the meeting I was in immediately before my encounter with my very busy friend was with another fellow pastor who told me of an article on CNN.com’s “belief blog” entitled “An Open Letter to Kermit the Frog.” It is well worth the read. Take a moment, if you will, and read it, and then come back and leave your thoughts. CLICK HERE to read the letter to Kermit.
It all begged the question in my mind – are we so busy committed to our individual causes that we are actually missing participation in God’s cause?
May we unlearn commitment to “MY” cause and relearn commitment to His. May we cultivate for unity among followers of Jesus and local church expressions in a community that the world might believe in the One who was sent (John 17:18-23).