What would that look like?

Catch me on a difficult day in ministry, and I’m likely to say stuff about our church like:

  • “I wish we were more spiritual.”
  • “If only our worship were deeper.”
  • “We should care more as a congregation.”

Ever said anything like that?  Well, this is “Confessions” so I’m confessing — I have.   And, to make matters worse, those questions were usually accompanied by gnashing of teeth, sackcloth-and-ashes, and a lot of other Biblical “woe is me” stuff.  In short, a big pity party with me as the guest of honor. 

One day, in the midst of this self-inflicted angst, I asked myself, “Okay, what would it look like if we were more spiritual?”  I didn’t have a clue.  No idea.  Nada.  Zip.  Nothing.  No answer to that question. 

Perceptive person that I am, I realized that all my agony was self-generated.  I was pining for some abstract concept that I couldn’t even define.  After all, what does it mean to be more spiritual, or deeper, or more caring?  I decided to paint a mental picture of what it would look like if our congregation were more spiritual.

I concluded that my definition of more spiritual meant practicing spiritual disciplines, like prayer and Bible reading.  So I decided to help my congregation read Scripture more by developing our “Great Stories of the Bible” reading plan.  I wrote it out, we published on our website, and we printed it in our Sunday bulletin and newsletter each week. 

We did something similar with worship.  In staff meeting one day, we were discussing the need for deeper worship. We decided deeper worship meant more people handling more of the sacred things of worship, like public prayers and the public reading of Scripture.  As a result, we began to include more opportunities for the congregation to participate in worship individually and communally. 

So, the next time you say, “I wish we were more___________” — ask yourself, “What would that look like?”  Define your terms and paint a mental picture of exactly what it would look like to see your church being more whatever.  Then set out to make that visual image become a reality.   You may not be completely satisfied with the result you get, but it’s better than moaning and groaning about abstract concepts.   In other words, keep it real!