My fried chicken craving hit me like a fierce tidal wave, and there was only one thing I could do. My fingertips flew to the yelp app to search for the best local fried chicken in my area. A few hours later, my wife and I were enjoying a couple large plates of Taiwanese fried chicken while we tried to contain our 16-month-old son in the restaurant.
During the course of the evening, my mind went down something of a rabbit hole. I realized that I use yelp several times a month (often several times a week), yet I’ve only ever left a couple reviews myself. I love what yelp provides for me, but I never take the time to contribute to the yelp community to be of use to others. Why? Because I’m too busy, and I only use yelp when I’m on the go and in need of a quick food fix.
And that’s when it hit me: I use yelp the same way that I often use my relationships and church community.
Community – the most powerful antidote against consumerism – can easily become a consumer good itself. We turn to community when we need a quick fix of a sense of obligation, purpose, or encouragement. But we pull away when it comes time to actually give of ourselves and make the community stronger. Like our favorite apps, we open the doors to community when it is convenient for us – and close them again when it is time to move on with our regular-scheduled lives.Community – the most powerful antidote against consumerism – can easily become a consumer good itself. Click To Tweet
I’ve recently been catching myself complaining about how busy I am. People ask me how I’m doing, and I respond with something like, “Busy, but that’s ministry right?” Why is busy the first adjective I use to describe my life? If I’m being honest, I think I’m using it as a kind of barrier: “I’m busy, so I’ll engage you now but don’t expect much from me after this short conversation.”
I don’t think I’m alone. After serving in Christian ministry for several years now, the biggest barrier I’ve encountered to creating deeper and more vibrant community in the local church is busy schedules. We’re willing to acknowledge that we need deeper relationships ourselves, but we don’t have time to make them. We like new ideas for ministry, but someone else is going to need to be the one to run it. Committing to a church group sounds nice, but our evenings are just too full. Author Brennan Manning said it this way, “Our controlled frenzy creates the illusion of a well-ordered existence. We move from crisis to crisis, responding to the urgent and neglecting the essential.”
What would it take for your church to become a counter-cultural community that rejects the frenzied demands of a hurried life, and chooses instead to focus on deeper relationships and greater love for one another?
Scripture tells us to confess our sins to one another, and few of us would object to that instruction – so long as “sin” means an action or behavior we feel guilty about. But how many of us are willing to confess our chaotic, frenzied lives as something that isn’t pleasing to God? Our calendars and commitments likely reveal for most of us what we love most. We could revise Scripture’s instruction and apply it like this: Confess your busy calendars to one another, that you may be healed.
A less-filled schedule doesn’t necessarily lead to more meaningful community, but for many of us it would be a great place to begin.Confess your busy calendars to one another, that you may be healed. Click To Tweet