Church people are busy. Sundays are obviously filled with activities. In most churches, there are also weekday Bible studies, evangelism classes, choir practice, activities for teenagers and children, Moms groups, Men’s meetings, outdoors enthusiast clubs, discipleship classes, and any number of additional activities.
A few years ago, when we started meeting together, we decided to forgo almost all of these programs. In fact, we only scheduled one weekly meeting for the church, and we decided that meeting would take place on Sunday mornings.
Something interesting happened when our calendars began to empty… and our lives became less busy. We had to deal with real issues, personal issues, relational issues, marital issues, parenting issues, financial issues, etc.
Why were people not dealing with those issues before? Because they had been so busy with church activities that they were able to hide those issues from others and, often, from themselves. They were busy doing church things – which were certainly God things, right? – that they did not have time to think about what was really going on inside and among themselves.
In some ways, our souls were numbed to all of the painful issues that we should have been dealing with, because we were so busy doing good things.
In fact, we soon found that even though we were taking part in evangelism classes, we were not really sharing the gospel. Even though we were part of Bible studies and discipleship classes, we were not learning and living Scripture or discipling one another. Even though we were taking part in classes for children, teenagers, moms, and dads, our families were not strong and were not maturing together in Christ. Even though we were spending time together, we were not actually relating to one another.
Our lives and our families and our relationships were not filled with Christ. The only thing that was filled was our calendars.
When we stopped pretending that we were doing good things – that is, when we stopped attending classes and programs – we learned how empty our lives really were, and we began to look for the reality of life in Christ with one another. Now, we had time to love and serve and evangelize and grow and mature together.
This may sound great to some of my readers, but I have a warning for you. Those classes and programs were acting as an anesthetic, numbing our souls. When we cleared our calendars, we did more than free our time. We also disclosed to ourselves, to our families, and to one another the emptiness and pain that was hidden within. This part was not fun.
But, I’m convinced that the church will not grow until we face these hidden hurts; until we accept that we don’t know how to love and serve and evangelize and care and share and grow and mature. We don’t know how, because we’ve never taken the time to learn. We’ve never taken the time to learn because we’ve been too busy doing good things – church things.
But, in reality, those good church things were numbing our souls and keeping us from growing.