Helping you find community might be a waste of time!
Posted on February 14th, 2012
Last night my wife had to watch the Super bowl on a small TV in an adjacent room from where my high-school girls were. They were hogging our big screen TV room with all their friends, mostly students from a hard, inner-city school. My oldest is dating a great kid named Dre, and his band of pirates are mostly poor, misguided, farts that eat all our food, and break windows, like they did during the 3rd quarter. To avoid killing them all and embarrassing my girls, I headed out to a friends house to watch the rest of the game.
After duct taping the window this morning, my wife and I headed off to breakfast and talked over how much we really loved these kids, faults and all. Because Dre grew up without a father, we have gotten to know all these kids by going to their sporting events, and because they always would rather be at our home than anywhere else, especially there homes.
While sipping our coffee and laughing a bit over their collective cluelessness, we once again talked about how it’s time to really give our lives to kids like these. After 10 years of YFC ministry, I vowed I’d never return to youth ministry, but it just seems as though it’s the real deal and that every minute we spend with them is transformational.
Because it was Monday I diverted the discussion to my personal frustrations I was having in where to spend my time. As is the case every week, my email loads up with adults Christians, most of whom have been Christians their entire lives, asking for a cup of coffee, some chat time, or a little help getting connected in our church. I suppose this is all good activity that most pastors give time to. And I even suppose that if I didn’t do it, people would just leave and go to another church because we didn’t help “plug them in.” But all of a sudden the pressure of choosing who would get my time, hit me square in the face.
Cheryl, cut through my fog with something like this, “So…you’re feeling bad that you can’t give all these people help in finding other Christian adults to be in community with, when all over our city are teens who have absolutely no help, no hope, and no clue of how to navigate their lives? Are you serious?”
I just stared deep into my mug of java and took another sip.
As we kept munching on our amaretto and white chocolate pancake, I felt my heart bubble over with frustration and clarity about what my role as a Christ follower should be. Not my role as a pastor, which seems to only bring confusion. But simply the role, the job, or the life that Christ wants me and everyone else to live.
At some point, someone has to bust through the minutia of nebulous get togethers and scream…who’s really going to give some time to people that need it?!! When will we as adult Christians stop prioritizing finding more Christian friends to have a small group with, or another bible study? When will we actually take a few disadvantaged or disillusioned people under our wings and give flight to God’s heart for their lives?
Most people know that I’ve spent my life’s work trying to help people form incarnational communities that witness of the Gospel in every nook and cranny of our cities, but I’m coming to find that when people focus too much on community and not the gospel, they become nothing more than 30 year old 8th graders looking for friends. They in turn forget that community is not the goal of life. Community, true biblical, missional, and gospel-centered friends are supposed to be the people we go on mission with, not the people that keep us from going on mission.
If pastors are supposed to be spiritual leaders, and leadership is taking people past where they are to the place God wants to take them, then it must begin with some jackwagon like me going, “Enough is enough!” So, that’s what I’m doing right now.
If you want to do coffee with me, I sure hope you’ve got a reason that is at least as important as the “least” of these around me.
Not trying to be mean, just trying to follow Jesus.
Hope you do to.
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