Church induced guilt

I love the fact that the more I’m connected with God, the more my view of what church should be changes.

I’ve been very guilty of looking at people in church and wondering why they aren’t connecting with a particular ministry when it’s obviously so perfect for them. I mean come on. We go to the work to put the ministry out there. Why don’t they just jump on board?

This all occurred to me this morning at about 8:00 AM. On Fridays we have Men’s Prayer at 6:30 in the morning. This revelation of people versus ministry didn’t really occur to me as I was leaving Men’s Prayer so much as it did while I crawled out of bed feeling guilty for not going to Men’s Prayer at all.

It hit me at that moment. Some ministries just don’t fit in a person’s schedule or lifestyle. My work week goes like this. Monday through Friday I get up at about 8 and go to work. I’ll work anywhere from eight to 16 hours that day. Even on an eight-hour day, I usually don’t get to bed until midnight or after. Somewhere in there I also have to find time for my family, writing lessons for church and coordinated the Legacy Kids. Because of this crazy schedule I never get enough sleep. My body is really kind of worn down from doing this for a long time. Getting up at 5:30 in the morning to make Men’s Prayer on Fridays just doesn’t fit. At all. And it’s not even that I don’t want to go. I set my alarm last night for 5:30. It’s that my body has the magical ability to turn my alarm off and I never even wake up enough to realize it. I’m really not making that part up.

So where does the guilt come from? God isn’t about guilt. He’s about freedom from guilt. It doesn’t come from our pastor who’s made it very clear this is an optional meeting and not a requirement for the staff. So where does it come from? My guess? The way the “church” has operated for as long as I can remember. I put that in quotes because I’m not referring to Legacy so much as the church in general. I remember growing up a prime tactic for the church to use was guilt. You have to be at such and such program because the church is putting it on. Looking back I realize my prime motivation for much of my church life was guilt. And that was back when I seemed to get nothing from church. It wasn’t until I started working out my own faith with God and seeking His will for me that church started making sense. Up to that point I just took whatever the church said along with my weekly spoonful of guilt and that was what constituted my “God time.”

So I’ve decided not to feel guilty about missing Men’s Prayer. I’m not saying I won’t ever go. In fact, I’ll still try to because I do enjoy it when I make it. But I’m also not going to feel guilty because I still have a lot of time I spend with God. Between my quiet times each day and pretty regular “God please save my butt” prayers throughout the day, I don’t feel like I’m in danger of slipping away because I miss one meeting.

However, this isn’t an excuse for people to not be involved in things we do at the church. I’m just saying work out what is right for you. What programs allow you to grow closer to God and minister to others? Focus on those. You don’t have to do everything just because the church is doing it, but I promise if you seek God he’ll show you what he has for you.

And this definitely doesn’t apply to work days. Everyone needs to come to those. Like this Saturday. 8:30 AM. Not too early and we desperately need your help finishing out the building. Just one last Saturday.

Note: Yeah, this will probably be one of those posts I have to clarify later because I’m sure there’s some point here that hasn’t occurred to me yet and will need clarification. Being a pastor and telling you you don’t have to go to church every time the doors open, that’s bound to happen.

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