Has the Church Become too Confusing?

We are busy.  Families, work, finances, friends, church, kids, sports, science projects, homework, and the list goes on and on.  

With so much happening in our lives, how do we evaluate where we are?  

One of our pastors pointed me to an article by a nationally known church leader who did a great job explaining what we've been trying to do at Mars Hill for almost 14 years.  From the time Mars Hill started we tried our best not to be a "programs" driven church.  We wanted the church to be a place where the people of God gathered weekly after spending time in their communities preaching the gospel to their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and their kids' friends.

Over the years we somehow became busy.  Blame it on our culture, our lack of creativity, or just conceding to the status quo.  Whatever the reason, we have a lot of things happening but I'm not sure it's all that healthy.  It's not that anything we're doing is bad or ungodly, it's just that we've become so busy that our "programs" or events have really become more of a distraction than a tool.  

I began to contemplate our church over the last 11 years (because that's how long I've been here). Where were we, and where are we now?  

God has done a lot of incredible things.  I've seen him grow a church of 100 people to a church of over 1000 with 2 campuses.  I've seen a lot of ministries and organizations in our community and around the world supported by the finances and resources we are able to gather together each year.  I've seen families grow.  I've see marriages become stronger.

I also see confusion.  "Where do I plug in?  How do I plug in? Where do I start?  What do I do?"  

That last question is one I've heard a lot in recent months.  "What do I do?"

I've noticed a lot of people have a passion for different areas of the church.  Many serve in the children's ministry, the security team or the hospitality crew.  Many have the resources to give, so they give very generously. And many find themselves busy, so the best they can do is show up for worship 2 or 3 Sundays a month.  

We're all different, we all have different schedules, and we all walk through different seasons of life.

But I wonder if there's a better way to evaluate our church life?  I'm not talking about legalistically where we have a check list each week... but sort of.  

The problem I have is that I often find myself doing really well at one aspect of my church life at the expense of other things.  For example, there was a season where I was serving so well each week that I hadn't been to a worship service in almost a year.  I was evaluating my church life based on one aspect, and I didn't realize how unhealthy it had become. 

Here's what church has come to look like for many of us:

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What if it could be more simple than that? (By the way, These are just a few of the things you could be involved in at church) 

What if we weren't so overwhelmed by the feeling that we need to participate in everything, and just prioritize our lives to be sure we had a healthy balance of participation.  

The reality is, the church needs you.  It needs me.  And it needs us to participate in every aspect of what it's doing... not just some of it.  

  • The church needs you and I to serve. There's a lot of need in the church and it can't be done without our help.
     
  • The church needs you and I to give. The church can't do ministry in the community if we don't give generously.  
     
  • The church needs you and I to grow in our spiritual lives through the beauty of relationships.  
     
  • The church needs you to actively share your faith with others and help others grow in their walk with Christ.
     
  • And the church needs you and I to participate regularly worshiping with the rest of the family.

Consider these four quadrants below.  What if we could evaluate our church life each month, or even each week, using something as simple as the five categories below:

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What if we could stop each month/week and evaluate our participation with the church in these five areas?

We could ask questions like, "Have I spent every Sunday this month serving but I haven't actually spent time worshiping corporately with the family of God?"  "Have I justified my tithe as a replacement for my serving?" "Am I actively sharing the gospel with others?"

I believe a healthy church lifestyle finds us participating in these four areas regularly.  

  • Worship: Are you worshiping corporately with the family of God on a regular basis? (Sunday gatherings, worship nights, etc.)
     
  • Serve: Are you serving the church and the community?  Are you volunteering in areas of the church ministry or in local ministries/missions the church is a part of? (MarsKids, Security Team, Friends of Internationals, Women's Resource Center, Victory Health Partners, etc.)
    • Click Here for a list of the local ministries we support
       
  • Community:  Are you a part of a small community of people who are investing in your spiritual life and you are investing in theirs?
     
    • Click Here for a list of Community Groups at Mars Hill.
       
  • Evangelism/Discipleship:  Are you actively and regularly sharing your story of the gospel to people around you? Are you intentionally pouring your own life into someone else and helping them grow in their walk with Christ?
     
  • Invest: Are you giving your finances, resources, time, and talents to further the mission of God and participate in the message the church is taking to the world? 
     

Participating in these five areas is not the magic formula for salvation. Jesus is the only source of salvation.  But, participating in these five areas regularly is the start to a healthy church life, and being a functioning part of the family of God.