I Get It Now!

While I’ve been “between churches” I’ve had the joy, and apparently challenge, of simply attending church on Sundays with Kristin and Elliot, without an up front role.

Each Sunday we’ve attended a different church and/or service, and for a family with a baby, each has presented a different challenge. Juggling naptimes, driving time, snacks, bottles and lunch takes some planning, patience and sometimes explodes in a mess of Cheerios, milk and tears.

One Sunday I finally blurted out, “I get it, now!” I finally get why so many young families find it so much easier to stay home on a Sunday morning. It’s not easy.

Now, before everyone tells me about the people who do, or how families managed in the past, I return to the topic of priorities. When people are already followers of Jesus, or even culturally Christian, church attendance naturally ends up higher in the priority listing. Today, these are exceptional people, whose numbers are shrinking.

As cultural Christianity dies, those with a tenuous connection to church can count several, maybe dozens, of priorities that take precedence over church. One of these is the promise of a peaceful, restful morning with the kids once a week – usually Sundays, because careers, commutes, fitness, children’s activities all make the list as well. The idea of packing the kids off to church, putting them in childcare (again) or trying to keep them quiet, is a low priority, if at all.

My family is obviously willing to make it work – we are followers of Jesus with a certain set of priorities. But we cannot forget – that encounter with Jesus transformed our priorities in life.

So again – I am learning that the emphasis needs to be on transformative discipleship, that reorients our priorities. NOT on reorienting people’s priorities so they can be discipled.

This reality is going to be a huge part of Redeem the Commute when it launches this fall, and Redeemer Church as it emerges.

Priorities – Part 2 of 2

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post on the language of priorities and its implications for discipleship…

We would do well to remember the importance of keeping priorities in order for church planting. It’s so easy to focus on church attendance. What kind of service should we have, where, when, and for who? How will people learn about Jesus when they come to church events and services? But this is a spoke.

Worse, if we expect services and events to be the first point of contact for the average family or individual, we underestimate the importance of priorities.  Those who attend church don’t do it by accident, or for lack of other options.  They do it because it takes priority over cutting the grass, sleeping in, and so on.

The problem is this: if Sunday morning is the church’s only, or even primary way of communicating the gospel to a hurting world, we are in trouble. Those who hear it will be the minority in our culture who already prioritize Christian worship, or who happen to have been invited to reorder their priorities for a day.

What we need to do is help people encounter the all-transforming power of the gospel – that reprioritizes everything in our lives.  Yes, Sunday morning routines, but also our activities, time, money, careers, sexuality, family, and more.

We are made to be transformed by the gospel, not to transform in order to hear it in the first place!

Priorities – Part 1 of 2

I have been thinking about discipleship and the language of priorities. Ajax is a bedroom community, with a vast majority of working adults commuting. Many commute and work long hours, and long for more time at home and at play. Many say they want to reprioritize their time or money, or some part of life, but feel stuck. What can change? A new job, a home closer to work, an earlier commute to avoid traffic? Each has consequences for all the other priorities.

This is like trying to reorganize the spokes on a wonky bicycle wheel – align one and others are simply thrown out of alignment as a result. The hub is a better place to start – make sure it is in order, and then align the spokes from it.

Unfortunately our tendency in life is to worry about the spokes, and forget to pay attention to the hub. When life is out of balance, we start wondering which spoke needs to be longer, shorter, straightened or whatever. If we do, we miss the point that a relationship with God, was always meant to be at the center of life, and when that hub is missing, there is no hope that the spokes will ever work out.

Followers of Jesus are people who are paying attention to the hub, and have invited God to take his rightful place at the center of a life once again, and to allow him to reprioritize, reshape and transform the rest of life.

More tomorrow on the implications for church planting…