At a recent men's retreat, BJ McMichael shared with us some material about how we are all a part of multiple competing stories. For example, at the same time, I am a man, a husband, a father, a psychologist, a fisherman, a Christian, and some times these various stories compete with one another for my time and attention.
Every man has had days when work has been the dominant story, taking up all of your time, and by default, becoming the most important story that trumps the others. I am in a position now like none I've ever been in before: my job is nailed down to a specific time slot. Ministry has no boundaries or schedule. Retail has a schedule, but it's random. My state job is 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, with very few exceptions. My job no longer has the power to automatically trump my faith, my family, or my own use of free time. It's truly a beautiful place to be.
The next step in the process was to look at what story causes the most tension with the others. If my job doesn't compete, what is it that brings me the most challenges as a father, a Christian, a man?
Those who know me a little might assume it's the fishing. Those who know me a little better might think I actually have it all together, as I put up a pretty good front.
Church is kicking my tail.
Not Jesus, Church, with a capital C.
I've been so conditioned by my ministry jobs to "use my talents" and to always want to help when I have the ability to. So has my wife. Frankly, we're pretty useful people when it comes to Church. No one is indispensable, but we've got a part in at least six different ministries. It's two cars on Sunday, because we both have responsibilities that start at different times. Both class and worship take a turn pulling. Then it's Sunday evenings, and a small group, Wednesday night rehearsals and another small group, this time with teens. And the women's ministry events, and KPT.
None of these things are bad. In fact, they're all good.But at the end of the day, I sit in Church trying to worship and find myself distracted (disgusted?) by all of the stuff going on. The forms have taken over at our expense, and the functions are lost.
I don't think changing to a Church with a different name/sign/location would deal with the problem. I don't want to give up the (few?) relationships we've built. I've been mistreated by Church folks before, and this isn't it. Everyone's been just swell.
I'm just getting tired of my family getting dragged 10 different directions so Church can be better, while Jesus and I become further and further apart.
Phil Ware preached yesterday about how church people have gotten in the way of the simplicity of the Christian call. I don't know if you can just blame the people. The whole system that created this problem is partly (mostly?) to blame. You can't blame the fish for the water he lives in.
I don't know if there's an answer, honestly.