I was talking to a friend this morning about this tension that we sometimes carry in ministry. You know, you work full-time for a church, maybe you are even a pastor, and there are times when you know that going to church is not going to help you or anyone else. Here's what I think...
- God does not live at your church. (I hear gasps of disbelief). It's true.
- Some of the most unspiritual people I've met are those who spend the largest amounts of time at church. They attend every Bible study, every prayer gathering, and sign up for every event and team. But if you had to choose between cutting off your leg and spending time with that person--it would take a few minutes to decide.
- You have to know what fills your spiritual and emotional tanks. Sometimes, that might be singing worship songs with hundreds of people. Other times, it might be riding a motorcycle or reading a book or killing large numbers of bad guys on a video game.
- Sometimes sleep is the most spiritual thing you can do.
- Our job as pastors is not to create automatons who come every time the church doors are open. We are helping people grow in their love for God and their love for others. Many times, that happens best away from the church property.
- I can tell when I'm feeling "toasty." If I keep going at the same pace, I'm going to lose my love for my job (aka my church) and will begin to lose effectiveness. When that happens, I need to get away.
- Don't worry about what people will think of you if you skip a service. Use it as an opportunity to let people know you are focused on your spiritual health and that's why you stayed home from church.
- Church attendance and involvement is a poor substitute for genuine spiritual health.
- When we as church leaders begin to see our people become less involved in the activity of the church, it doesn't necessarily mean they are backsliding or falling away from God. No, it might mean they actually get it now, and they are practicing the Jesus-life where it matters--in their relationships and community.
I love my church. I can't imagine a more effective place for followers of Christ to grow or for the unconvinced to explore their questions. I don't know of a place that has better artistic elements that soften my heart and open my mind. I've never been to a church that has a more dynamic teaching team to communicate the gospel. I've given my life for more than a decade to this place. And yet, every now and then, the most spiritual thing I can do is stay away.