Dear Church Family,
These open letter things seem to be all the rage recently, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve had something weighing on my chest for a while now and I’ve finally mustered the courage to share it. For many years I’ve considered leaving this church and looking for a new place to call my church home. Our church has a reputation for being elitist, stuck up, and lonely. It’s easy to get lost and go unnoticed. You can be here for 10 years and and be forgotten in 10 minutes. If you don’t have an inside track to one of the groups, you’re left out. Look around you. The pews are empty. There are no potlucks. There are no activities. I can’t remember a year since I’ve been here where there wasn’t an urgent plea for offerings just to meet the budget. It doesn’t feel like a community.
I’ve heard people talk about “The good old days” when there was Oasis. When the church had groups that ate together, played board games together, and went camping together. There were opportunities and invitations to meet new people. Now those same people look back discouraged as the friends who once sat next to them have left.
At this point what probably saddens me the most is an undercurrent of apathy that I feel. Midweek service has 20 people, vespers programs are lucky to have 10. Announcements are made for outreach opportunities that members take on and we sit back and say our “Amen” in support, but few actually take the invitation to do something. And now we are on the verge of something fantastic in reaching out to our community and it feels like the enthusiasm has fallen on deaf ears. Like the king who calls out to the wedding guests to come and celebrate, and they all find themselves too busy.
We need volunteers right now for our ministries. Jesus calls each of us in the great commission to make disciples of all nations. I’ve always loved the way that Francis of Assisi said it “preach the gospel, and use words if necessary”. And if you’re afraid to do it alone, get a friend and volunteer together. My dad always said, “just because a mouse is in the cookie jar doesn’t mean he’s a mouse”. And just because you come to church, sing the songs, and go home doesn’t make you a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is an opportunity to show that your faith is alive and that you are doing more than talking the talk.
Evangelism is not just the job of those who are paid, but of every one of us who calls ourselves a disciple of Jesus.
Don’t let your life get in the way of the gospel. I know what it’s like to work a full week, juggling the responsibilities of family and a professional career. I’ve had Sabbath’s where I force myself to get out of bed and come to church. Yet every time as I set foot in my youth room and begin to respond to the call Christ has put in my heart to minister, I come alive. It inevitably becomes the highlight of my week. Without fail, God rewards me with a drink from the well that does not run dry.
Whenever I get ready to leave and take my family elsewhere I ask “why am I here in the first place?” And I don’t have an answer for it. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something about this church that is absolutely amazing. I’m not here because of the politics or my job. I’m not here because of the “big church” atmosphere, the music programs, or the author/speaker pastor. I’m here because if you look past the cliques and politics, the holy spirit is powerful here. Throughout the years I have been here, my faith has transformed and I have grown a passion for living a life worthy of being called a follower of Jesus. I can honestly say my life is better because of the people who have helped (and are still helping me) grow spiritually in this church.
I’m not asking, I’m begging. For every person who has a friend who has left the church and wants to see them back. For every person who feels lonely and would like to meet more people. For every person who wants our church to be known for it’s people more than it’s programs. The fields are ripe and the workers are few. It’s time to answer the call to change the lives of the people in our community. To look past worship styles and worship times and realize Jesus is standing at the door of our church saying “I want to come in and I brought some friends”.
Husband, father, church elder, youth leader, and follower of Christ