Steve Sjogren (whose initiative, innovation and forging into the world of servant evangelism and kindness as a city transformational tool has inspired us at Freedom House greatly) blogged today about The Church's hesitance to ask people for commitment.
It's an excellent challenge to those of us who actually believe The Church plays a legitimate & tangible (not just an ethereal and theoretical) role in the transformation of our cities BY good INTO good.
I was talking with a pastor friend this week about the changing face of commitment. The new reality in most of the USA is this: those who consider themselves committed to a local church will only attend once every two to three weeks. (When they aren’t present they aren’t out doing outreach!) Keep in mind, these are the committed ones. A small percentage of the highly committed will be present (and participate) on a weekly basis, but those are the rare birds. Realities like these can cause leaders to go a little crazy. My friend asked me what I made of it all. Here is a thought…
By and large, the Christian church in the US has been fearful of calling people to make commitments. I think this is because we fear being accused of not walking in grace. If we hope to make forward progress we need to get over this reluctance of defining as normal that people will be committed in their actions. The local church provides the impetus for vision in the Christian life. Until people buy into the vision of what God is doing in your church, little will be compelling in their Christian lives.
Stop apologizing. Make commitment the norm. Ask for a big commitment and you will receive a big response. Get over your shyness. Model commitment, walk it out, teach it, see what God does.
It's an excellent challenge to leaders.
On Sunday night, we held our 1st Annual "Volley Awards" to honor the volunteer team at Freedom House. Each award had a volleyball on it and we gave the volunteer of the year the "Golden Volley Award" (which was a yellow volleyball). But we went through and intentionally recognized publicly those who serve the church and city from within Freedom House. We again realized that we're blessed to have so many who "get" the call to both worship and work. We're a bit of a statistical anomaly in that manner. And make no mistake... if you don't like working... you won't much like Freedom House for very long because we believe that every member is a minister with sacred callings to step into.
But we've lost some over the years because of a high commitment-ask that they were not interested in making. Even though I rarely admit it, it absolutely does bother me to feel the rejection sting when people choose to bail on "the team". It's tough because this IS my life. Life and ministry are not separate entities. And life is about so much more than delighting our personal whimsies while the world is in need of the message we've been entrusted to go forth and share. Calling, doing and leading other to less... is foolish stewardship.
The high ask, as Sjorgen points out, gets a high response... and that leads to a healthy, fit body actually DOING SOMETHING effective and not just being a spiritual couch potato.
And on that note... onward to Frosty Fest we go. All aboard.