Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I don’t know about you, but it’s usually about now that I start getting anxious, worrying about whether I’ve planned enough or done enough to really honor my Mom, and the Mother of my children. This year, I have to say “no.” I kind of dropped the ball this year, and it’s got me thinking, are we building a buck-passing culture?
To be honest, I’m a little exhausted right now. Why doesn’t matter, this isn’t an excuse, but I really didn’t do a good job of organizing my little kids (three of them, ages 5-9) to express their gratitude to Mom. I have two adult kids, and they’re at an age where they should be able to figure this out on their own, but I’m scrambling a little to get cards made with the littles and feeling more than a little inadequate in this.
Our church put on a Ladies Tea for the women and girls of the church today in honor of Mother’s Day. A group of us worked to organize, set up, and put on a nice relaxing time for the ladies with food, games, and gifts. It was a very pleasant affair. I think that sometimes, because the church (institution) takes care of something, it makes it easy for personal responsibility to slide off the table as we pass the buck to “the church.” This is quite tragic.
I think of how often people will come to me and start a conversation with, “You know, pastor, the church should….” What follows could be anything: go Christmas caroling, put on a banquet for the homeless, host a BBQ for the neighbors, do a ladies tea, or start a particular small group. The church should absolutely do these things … and the people ARE the church. I think that sometimes we get the impression that the church (institution) should do things, and the individuals should just be involved by virtue of their membership.
This is sort of like what happened with me this Mother’s Day. We put on the ladies tea, and check, that task was marked off in my brain because the church did it. It made it easy for me to lose sight of my obligation to the moms in my own life, personally. Think about this though, what is more meaningful, for an organization to recognize you and honor you, or for those for whom you’ve shed blood, sweat and tears to look you in the face and honor you? If the church (institution) organized Christmas caroling in the neighborhood around the church, that’s nice, but what if a member organized Christmas caroling to their own neighbors on their own street? Now, rather than seeing a bunch of people they don’t know, they see a neighbor and now it’s personal … and much more impactful. Likewise, the church (corporate) could put on a BBQ for the neighbors of the church building … whom we don’t live next to, but visit the area once a week, or a member could host a BBQ at their house for their own neighbors. Which do you think would serve the cause of Christ better?
The corporate church effort is important, but it’s no substitute for our personal obligation to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is no program that will ever be a substitute for genuine, personal interaction. No organization will ever fulfill your calling or purpose as effectively as you can. We need to encourage, empower, equip, and expect our members to do personally what they expect the church to do corporately. “The church should…” Yes, YOU should host a BBQ for your neighbors, go Christmas caroling to your neighbors, start a particular small group for interested parties whom you have been talking to, etc. We each, together, are the church, the body of Christ. We each need to take the charge to love, honor, and serve one another — considering the needs of others as more important than our own — very seriously. We need to think past our own foreheads and make sacrifices ourselves rather than expecting others to do it for us. Church leaders need to be the first to model this, and then hold it out as the expectation for everyone else.
Now, excuse me, I need to tend to some amazing ladies in my life.