In the modern worship service at which I preach and lead a worship band, The Moment Worship at the First United Methodist Church of Moore, I have begun our August Worship Series: CATCH. For the next four weeks, we will be exploring Debbie M. Nixon’s outreach program
Debbie Nixon and @RevAdamHamilton of Church of the Resurrection begin this wonderful resource by asking three questions: 1) Why do people need Jesus; 2) Why do people need the Church; and 3) Why do people need your church? These thought-provoking questions seem easy enough to answer, especially for those who have been in the Church for a while, but in truth this is not the case. Also, answers within the same church may be wildly different for different disciples.
Worship went smoothly enough. We examined these questions through the grace-filled, heart warming eyes of John Wesley and the spirit-filled, Jesus lovin’ Great Awakenings of the emergent West. We then looked at the Methodist Church during and after WWII, and during and after the Civil Rights Movement. Things certainly have changes in our denomination and in our culture. You can hear the sermon here: http://moorechurch.com/System/Media/
After worship ended, we split into our age-level small groups. In light of worship discussion, I had the small group I was leading (six couples 25-35) focus on the first question: Why do people need Jesus? They broke into groups and examined scripture, personal experience, and church tradition for a while. When we gathered back together, I asked them what in the Church distracts them from knowing and showing why people need Jesus. They’re answer almost unanimously – Committees!
The busyness of committees was a thorn in the side of many of these young adults. Committees breaking into sub-committees commissioning task forces that form cell groups is not something they enjoy as they work to complete ministry projects and provide opportunities for others. Granted, many of these people are brand-new Methodists, but often fresh eyes can spot long-standing problems. It wasn’t that they didn’t enjoy working together or being a part of a team. It was something else, and I was trying to pull that “something” out of their comments as well as I could.
After a while, I paused the conversation and asked them to look at the clock. Thirty minutes had passed. I did this not to scold them, but to point out to them that we should pay attention to how passionate we are about issues, and then ask ourselves why we are and where that passion comes from. Do we detest committees because they interfere with effectively knowing and showing why we need Jesus and the Church? Or do we detest committees because we had a bad experience on a committee in the past?
This was my opportunity to introduce one of Nixon’s final points: we need to delineate between aimless busyness and intentional busyness. Is it aimless to spend six week’s worth of meetings trying to decide where the coffee pot will go in the kitchen? Yes! Is it aimless busyness to spend six week’s worth of meetings trying to decide what we want to be the first thing(s) guests see and experience when they walk into the church? No! We need to make these distinctions.
We also need to listen to people who are new to the church. We need to hear what they are noticing about our processes. Then, we need to figure out what led them to notice what they noticed. Someone may be coming from another church who used Times Roman font in the bulletins and heard we used Comic Sans and will let you know about it. Someone else may have the courage to tell you that they’ve been coming for three Sundays and no one has acknowledged their presence. The former guest wants to be on the worship committee to control fonts; the latter wants to let hospitality and welcoming committees know how they can do their jobs better.
Are your church’s committees aimless in their busyness? Or intentional? Do you think UM committee structure or culture needs to change in established churches? Answer below:
May our busyness, aimless or intentional, never fully detract us from knowing and showing others the love that is found in the life of Jesus.