Sunday, June 8, 2014

No Boxes Here?

I've been saying for a couple of years now that people need to let God out of the Sunday morning box, that He doesn't want to just be with you for an hour or two on Sunday morning and then put back in His box to sit there until you have an emergency, but He wants to invade your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. ~Joyce Meyer

I have often stated here on my little corner of the Interverse (that is, my word combination of Internet and universe) that hypocrisy is the most interesting sin of all to me: Mostly, because we all are guilty of it (I am including myself) and blissfully unaware of our guilt and we would rather it remain just that way. I have this unfortunate gift (or curse, depending on your viewpoint) of seeing hypocrisy, even though I am not consciously looking to find any. To me, it is human nature, always there in people, and there is no need for me to seek it out...it just runs amok and smacks into me head-on.

Recently my husband and I both had one of those smack head-on moments. The details of the moment are not important, what is important is the hypocrisy, because it lingers on.

Our church as a whole preaches about following your passion, using your gifts, stepping out of the box, connecting with people and connecting people to God...and to really do it. I love that about our church. We have been there a year now. We talk to people while at church, but we are out of the loop otherwise because we are not on Facebook. We are not the only ones, I know a few people who come regularly who are not on the Internet at all. So, our connections are limited because we are not in the preferred communication box. That should not have stopped anyone reaching out to us and making a connection, like just asking for my phone number and calling now and then, but since Facebook is their style, for them to connect with me, I need to be on Facebook. Of course, they would see that as a convenience for me, not a box that I have to fit in.

What I have found is that it is never a box when you are the one happy in it, but the people outside of it see it as the box that it is.

To be an active church team member we were asked to fill out a form and then a meeting time would be set. We filled out our forms and turn them in back in November. Then there were the holidays and crazy ice storms and such, so after a few reminders and over six months, we had our meeting recently. We were strongly encouraged to go on a retreat and we got the impression that we would not be seriously considered for service in the church until we go to this retreat, which happens only once a year. They see this retreat as a benefit for us, not another box that we have to fit in.

My husband and I have prayed about the retreat and neither one of us feel God's leading for us to go this year, as unbelievable as that may sound to those who have told us how wonderful it is. How could God not want us to go? Although they say that you should not go unless you are ready to go, they just cannot believe that anyone would not be ready. I felt quite a bit of peer pressure from this, but not God's calling. My husband and I came to the conclusion that the retreat would likely benefit us, but even more it would change their opinions of us.

That is because they are so happy, they do not see the box they are wanting us to fit in so that we can be like them, in their minds.

What we have noticed is that the active church team members really only connect on a personal level with each other. Honestly, they are too busy being church "connectors" to connect with those who are not in their box that they are not really in, but we and many others are definitely outside of at the same time.

So, my husband and I after praying have come to the conclusion that we are not going to have a ministry in the church, but we feel our Lord leading us to our ministry being the church. We will be connecting with families and couples and individuals who are both in the box and outside of it. We will not be daunted by any barriers either way. Jesus wasn't, so why should we?

I just think of the early Christians who somehow built churches without technology like Facebook and phones, and I am pretty sure that retreats were not common practice either, but what they did do is have personal relationships with God and with other people. What we have been told is pretty much what we felt from the Lord: It helps everyone there to make connections with each other, but only with those who go. I feel it should not take a retreat for people to get personally involved with each other, but if that is what it takes, I am not against it. I am just wondering why it is so necessary...?

~ My Lord, I know I do not see all of my own hypocrisies, but You do. Forgive me. Forgive us all of our hypocrisies. We are all guilty of them. ~

6 comments:

  1. Doesn't this seem to be a theme for you, everywhere you go it seems there is something you must fix or rework. I think your gift is simply teaching people to see, not always their faults, but simply to see what is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could be blissfully unaware. It has been my experience that even newer churches have things "we have always done [it] that way" that really should be reconsidered and they really do not appreciate when it is pointed out, no matter how carefully approached. I also have to say here that if is a Biblical fact that God does not always use the gentle approach to change His people and their ways.

      Delete
  2. I can so relate to this! At my church, we have to attend three 'classes' before we can serve within the church (it used to be 6). We went to the first one but have not followed through, and it has now been 3 years. We've gone through this before in other churches, where they identify your spiritual gifts and passions and then assign you to be a greeter, so my husband refuses to go through the hoops again. I guess we will always not quite feel on the inside. You really hit the nail on the head about having to fit into a box! I admire you and your husband for your decision.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is so nice that to know you still visit my blog, Paula. I have not been as active with it as I used to be.

      The church requirements you described are interesting...as if "everyone" should have the gift of being a greeter...? I can see why certain standards for those seeking active service in the church can be good, but I can also see how such standards are quite over-demanding and even damaging for individuals, who are in fact volunteering their time and talents to better God's kingdom on earth. Imagine having to fill out a form, having an interview, and being expected to go to classes or on a retreat before you can enter into heaven! I thank God that God does not require this of us!

      I think thing I think that bothers me the most is that it all has this mixture of business-like practices, almost like hiring procedures, and the addition of social media where people can talk "at" each other but not really "to" each other is what bothers me the most. Church emulating the way the world runs a business has always caught me as disturbing and I love being on the Internet, but I also thank God that heaven will not have it.

      Delete
  3. We call it *plugging holes* ~ churches identifying those willing to help then using them to plug their holes instead of in their gift. Part of the problem is that the church as a whole has drifted so of track from what it was meant to be there are very few willing & capable of disciplining others ~ especially those with the more difficult gifts. Plus there has been so much emphasis on the *God loves you, no matter what*, that a great many people struggle when God puts them in, or allows, difficult situations in their lives.

    We have also lost a lot of God's idea of order & authority ~ perhaps rightly so due to abuses ~ but then nothing has replaced the idea of a people running with the shepherd's vision for a church & coming under that authority. In the west individualism trups all. Not convinced that idea emmenates from God. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is in part why I find it hypocritical, I think. This church really does believe in God's authority, His leading, and highly encourages us to find our passions, use our gifts, but it seems to me as if it has this slight twist to it. Perhaps the problem is within me.

      It seems to me that the church is following God's leading overall and believes this retreat is part of that. I must say that it really resulted in a spiritual change in our friends, but these same friends (and everyone else we have talked to in the church so far) have not fasted...a subject about which I will be again posting soon. It is almost like this is a preferred by-pass of fasting: only 48 hours with meals, hotel comforts, and deliverance of issues! Not all spiritual growth has to be a painful experience, however, as my husband pointed out, the emphasis placed on this retreat suggests a reliance on it and that an individual cannot possibly achieve whatever is gained at the retreat by any other means, which is offered only once or twice a year. If someone has an issue between retreats, he just has to muddle through until the next retreat, because nothing else is like it? How did Christainity survived without this special retreat for all these centuries?

      And I am not suggesting that God did not lead someone to begin having these retreats or that they are not part of God's plan or that we will never be led to go to one in the future. I am just saying it should not be expected of everyone. I would like for everyone to experience fasting food for forty days as my Lord did. I know from experience all those things that people fast instead of food would also be eliminated from their lives and it is life changing, but those who have not ever done it would not know this for themselves. This probably is one of those issues that would be resolved if I went to the retreat....

      Delete

Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.