Some may look at this title and say that’s just click bait. Just stick with me for a little bit, you’ll understand.
As you may know I spent a lot of years as a pastor to children. This mean planning events, programs, and worship services for kids. In all of these things something I felt was very important what FUN. No, fun was not the ultimate goal, but it was important. The ultimate goal was to reach kids and families with the Gospel of Jesus and help them grow in that relationship. Still, fun was important aspect. I wanted kids to WANT to come to church. I wanted them to want to bring their friends. I wanted kids dragging their parents into church each week. At the very least I wanted kids not to give their parents a hard time when it came time to get ready for church. I wanted this sh….. stuff to be awesome.
“This SH— is Awesome”: The title of this post is actually a quote. I can’t remember who told me about this, but it’s a true story that happened in a friend’s church. The person who told me this was a fellow children’s pastor. During a service or event of some sort, there was a new kid. We love to have new kids, but it can be really hard for that new kid. It can be a little difficult for us as well. We want the kid to feel welcomed, but sometimes we are so busy just making things happen that we don’t have time, or don’t think we do, to help this new kid feel welcome.
I couldn’t tell you exactly what sort of event this was. Maybe a worship service. Maybe a special event. I just don’t remember. What I do remember is that part way through the program things were going really well. Then, in the middle of everything that is a typical children’s worship service, or event, this new kids yells, “This sh— is awesome.” Clearly this new kids was enjoying himself. How often would a non-church person TRULY enjoy being in church? Sadly, it’s not that often. But, this kids was enjoying it.
Jesus hung out with lost people. The Bible makes it clear that people who do not know Jesus are lost. It also makes it clear that we ALL started out that way. Another thing that is clear, if you read the first four books of the New Testament, is that Jesus hung out with sinners. He attended a wedding where LOTS of drinking was taking place. Then, when the wine ran out, He turned water into wine. So, AFTER people were drunk, He gave them more wine.
In another instance, Jesus attended a big party at the house of a man named Levy, or Matthew, as most people know him. The good church people saw this and asked why Jesus would hang out with “people like that” or with “those people”. When they asked Jesus’ disciples about this, Jesus answered, “It’s not the righteous that need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus CHOSE to hang out with lost people because He knew that they needed Him. We should work to bring lost people into the presence of Jesus.
Stop expecting lost people to act “right” in church. A very wise man I once knew often said, “Lost people do lost things.” I remember the first time I heard him say that. It was like a slap in the face. So many “church people” expect people who do not have a relationship with Jesus to behave as if they did. These same “church people” also forget that when they were lost they acted the same way.
We need to learn to welcome lost people into our churches and stop expecting them to act like us. Heck, I’ve know some great “church people”, but I’ve known some that I would NOT want lost people to emulate.
This SHHH…. Stuff should be awesome. Go into some churches and you might think that they forgot that we were created in the image of the one who created everything beautiful. You’d think that they forgot that the one they claim to worship is the same one who created everything beautiful. Sure, some churches have beautiful buildings, but the things they do with it are not so. I’m not saying that we should plan our services or events in such a way that they appeal to lost people. Some churches have done that with success. If God has called you to do that, then do it. However, what I’m saying is that, regardless of our “style”, we should do everything we do as well as we possibly can.
I’m also not saying that we try to take the place of the Holy Spirit. Certainly it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to move people. But, we should be committed to doing all we do with excellence. A pastor I once served with defined excellence as “Doing the best you can with what you have.” It doesn’t mean copying the church down the road and wishing you had all the stuff they had. It means taking the things you DO have and using them to the best of your ability.
How we respond matters. I don’t know how the friend that told me that story responded to this kid. However, it matters how we respond. We often say that “all are welcome” or “come as you are”. When what we really mean is “all are welcome” so long as you act like us, or “come as you are” so long as you look or dress like us. We need to be open to people that act different, look different, and even think different than we do. Then we need to be very careful how we respond when they “don’t know how to behave in church.”
People will notice your side-glances. They will see how you look at them. They will notice the groups that talk with one another, but ignore them. And they will CERTAINLY notice how you respond to their “wrong behavior” or to their awkwardness. Let’s remember that for them this may be a new experience. Let’s remember that they may not know Jesus, and thus don’t have the Holy Spirit. Let’s remember that Jesus hung out with sinners. Let’s remember that it’s a good thing that Jesus did love sinners, cause we wouldn’t stand a chance without Him.
I hope my SHHH… Stuff is awesome. Now that I have started a church and moved from the role of children’ pastor into that of senior pastor/church planter I hope that people think my church is awesome. We don’t have a fancy set up. We don’t put on a great “show”. We don’t have fancy lights, huge screens, or fog machines. I’m not saying that those things are bad, just that we don’t have them and we have to take care not to make such things the focus. Still, I hope that when people come to the church I pastor, I hope they leave thinking it’s awesome. It is my hope, and prayer, that they will feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and will be moved.
What are you doing to make your SHHH… stuff awesome for new people?Matt Norman
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