4 min read

Is your local church a part of the problem or the solution for your community?

4 Questions a Pastor Asks

  1. What do you want?
  2. What do you need?
  3. What do you do?
  4. How do you feel about what you did?

You should ask yourself this question about your ministry, your church, your daily life.  But especially your church.  What do you want in church, what do you actually need in church, and what do you actually do in church, and how do you feel about the results?

Meet Messy Jane

Messy Jane need to make some money

There was a real woman, I will call her Jane.  Jane’s life was a mess.  A husband with emotional problems, anger issues, and financial failure.  The sudden unexpected death of her daughter, followed immediately by the discovery that her now deceased daughter had filmed her husband molesting his children.  And at 60 she is trying to raise teenage grandchildren with severe emotional issues- from the sudden death of their mom and the sexual abuse by their father, and to grieve her daughter and the agony of her grandchildren.  Meanwhile, she still has to pay the bills, keep food on the table, get kids back and forth to school, church, and counselors.  This was Jane’s condition when she came to me for couple’s counseling with her husband.

Pastor’s Dialog with Jane

My first question for Jane:  “Have you spoken to your pastor?”

Jane: “Yes he thinks we need to get the grandkids into youth group.  But the church had no youth group and so he asked me to start one.”

Me: “Did he know how busy your life is?”

Jane: “Honestly, I don’t think he cared.”

Me: “What do you want from church Jane?”

Jane: “I want a place where people know me, where we can worship and feel God’s presence.  But I need to be loved… and I have been in this church for years and have never had visit, phone call, or invite from any other person in the church and all my invitations were turned down.”

Jane need to be loved

Me: “I see.  So you need to be loved.  Tell me, in your church what are you doing to build those relationships?”

Jane: She laughs. “Seriously?  I  run the youth group. I make the coffee. I bring desserts.  I clean the church.  I call people and pray for them.  I send out Christmas cards.  I am doing everything I can to make this church my family.”

Me:  “How do you feel about what you have done?”

Jane: “I’m lonely.  I’m tired.  JB what’s the point?  Why am I here if they don’t want me here?  I feel like I’m just a free resource to them.”

Missing Out on Community in the Local Church

Jane’s story is not unique.  Nor is this church’s response to Jane. Sadly both Jane and her church missed out on huge potentials to have more in life: community. Jane actually enjoyed working in the church, and the church needed her to work there. So what was the problem?

The church had a very old 1970’s model of a wall of separation between the clergy and the laity. A mentality of you will come and listen, tithe, and go home. But so many modern Christians want so much more than that. They want to be part of a family, to have vested interest in being the church. Not attending the church. But being the church as co workers with the church leaders.

Wanting a Vibrant Church Community

So as a pastor I always ask these questions  Because I don’t desire to have attendance numbers. I desire to have a living breathing vibrant community filled with all kinds of expressions of faith, worship, and service. Seeing the church as a center of worship, education, arts, and community versus the church being a sermon delivery vehicle,  builds more Christian workers, closer friendships, and healthier lifestyles. Business skills become shared, resources pooled, and loneliness is reduced.

Meet Messy Pastor

But this takes courage.  You see when you step from behind the pulpit and into the lives of the people it becomes messy.  But it also becomes so much more satisfying.  Reduces pastoral burnout. And builds beauty and it builds relationships.

By making the church the community, life becomes better for all of us.