Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sometimes "NO" is the best answer!

My parents were in ministry their entire adult life.  My dad worked with High School Students for more than 30 years.  My mom told me a story about how early on in their marriage my dad was gone at night more than my mom liked.  So they set up an appointment with their pastor to talk about it.  What they discovered was the pastor was busier than my dad.

I worked on staff at churches for over 20 years.  One of the things that bothered me is that we had so many programs that I felt we were pulling people away from their families in order to do more programs.  Most churches had multiple services on Sundays and that is understandable.  But many have programing everyday of the week.  There is such a tension placed not only on the pastors but also the church members to be at the physical church building for every program. I've heard pastors say that the Sunday night crowd was the most spiritual. Really?

A fellow church staff member and I who had the youngest children on the church staff were called into a meeting with our Senior Pastor at the time.  He was concerned that we weren't seeing enough decisions (actually, not enough people walking down the aisle) so he wanted the two of us to give up our "OFF" days and work on getting people to join the church.  I said no.

It was about that time I read a book by Andy Stanley called Choosing to Cheat.  His premise was that we are going to cheat something: our job or our family, so he chose to cheat his job (church).  He said that he left everyday at 4:30 to be home with his family.  That book resonated in my spirit and I decided that I was choosing to cheat my job for my family.  Now, I'm not lazy but I have only ONE first wife and Two Biological Children.  I want them to know that God comes first and they are second.  Some people mistakenly think that their relationship with God and attending church and church programs are the same.  I believe involvement in church is a necessity but busyness is not!

In Luke 10 Martha and Mary invited Jesus over to visit them.  Martha was so busy "SERVING" Jesus that she had no time to be with him.  Mary spent time at the feet Jesus worshiping Him and Martha got so upset that she told Jesus to make her sister come help her.  But Jesus told her that Mary had chosen what was better.  I've seen too many of my Christian friends and ministers get overburdened and burned out by doing every program at church!  I'm not saying to stop doing ministry, but you can't do everything.  Sometimes we get so busy "DOING CHURCH THAT WE HAVE NO TIME TO BE THE CHURCH!"

About 6 years ago I read another book that actually instrumental in my changing my thinking about church.  It is called the Simple Church by Thom Rainer.  I tried to lead the church I was pastoring to reduce the programing so we could be more effective with our families and in reaching our community. But I realized they weren't ready for that radical change.

I believe sometimes the best word in ministry is "NO." God never intended for us to do everything.  He wants to spread the work among the body of Christ.  Even God rested one day after creating the Earth. If we do everything we are robbing other people of opportunities to serve Him.


  1. Totally agree Kevin. I am glad the leadership here is not into programming every single night nor am I expected to be here for everything when it does happen.