June 8, 2011

Too Busy For Discipleship

I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. Right now we are dealing with an issue the news here has deemed #scandalpalooza on twitter. The long and short of it has to to with the Mayor trying to run concerts off of the city coffers. A few months ago the concert promotion group, 'Power Promotions' went bankrupt, taking with it some 400k in loans from the city. The city council was shocked. The public was shocked. The media was shocked. And now we are trying to figure out what happened.

As I was listening to the news I heard an interesting commentary. They were comparing the goals of the city council verses the goals of a private concert promoter. The city wants to create lots of excitement and make people happy to live in Halifax. The business' goal on the other hand is to make money, the method to do so just happens to be the concert. The commentator's point was that these goals are not exclusive of each other, but that it was better to private business to run concerts because they will figure out how to do so without losing money.

This conversation quickly lead me to think about the church.

Sometimes I wonder if we can get too caught up in trying to be exciting. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want the church to be boring. And it is sad to say that many are just that. They obviously need a fire lit in their belly. But that is a different blog post.

Maybe excitement is the wrong word. I think the word that I really am looking for is busy. Sometimes I wonder if we have confused being busy with discipleship.

The problem is, discipleship is hard whereas busy is easy. It is easy to fill up a calendar with events, programs and meetings. And each of those things tends to spawn more of the others. To have an event, we have to have a meeting. If the event went well we might consider making it a program. Which will need oversight, so we will have to met, and we don't want this program to get stale so we better think of other events we can do.

I wonder has anyone, anywhere has come to a deeper understanding of God, or a closer relationship with Jesus by reviewing minutes of the previous meeting?

But busy is not just easy, it also makes people feel good. If the calendar is full, if our people are always driving to the church, or to a church related event, we must be being successful. And if we are being successful the next step is to do more, or to do the same things only bigger and better.

The cycle is endless. Endless until people throw their hands up and say I'm out of here, I'm burnt out.

We need to remember that being busy running the church is not the same thing as being a dedicated disciple. Like with the above example the two are not mutually exclusive. We need programs to be planned, committees to meet and events to be organized.

But not at the expense of discipleship.

I suspect that a lot of churches could drop half of their calendar right now and be the better for it. Would there be hurt feelings to see some things stop; no doubt. But maybe then we could begin to move from busy to disciplining. We can take time to be with one another, to pray with one another. We can take time to practice spiritual disciplines. And we can zone in on the one or two things that God is really calling our church to be and do.

In the stillness we can listen for God's still small voice.

What do you think, can we be so busy working for God (with or without pay) that we forget to grow our relationship with God?