As part of our “Next Steps” process at our new church, we took a personality test, which revealed that I’m a pretty task-oriented person — “D/C” is what it called me. I was skeptical of the results, until I read, “D/Cs can benefit from learning to relax and paying more attention to people.”
Okay, you got me.
I love people. I really do. I long to see hearts healed and souls alive. But there’s always been the drive to accomplish, to work, to bring order (a nightmare for a stay-at-home mom of three little ones who produce a lot of out-of-orderness)…the tendency to stress over any task left uncompleted. I don’t want to say I run over people to get the job done, but yeah. Yeah I do, without even thinking.
Cue the ever-faithful Potter’s hand.
Seems like the theme for the past couple of weeks has been the priority of people. I’ve been reading in Mark 10-12, peering into this gospel to catch glimpses of the Lord’s heart.
What I saw was Jesus patiently call the disciples to Himself and teach them when they acted clueless and petty. He wasn’t offended when they got it wrong — but only when they kept little children from coming to Him. He stopped to heal a blind beggar on His way to complete His most important mission. He said He had come to serve and to give His life so others could be free. He drove those out of the temple who were taking advantage of people in the name of religious duty.
Quite a change in perspective for a task-driven person, I’d say. And a necessary lesson for a church planter, or any follower of Jesus. I see where His priorities lie, and I want mine to follow suit.
I heard a story not long after we had begun our internship at Church With U. It was a story about a man — we’ll just call him “Sam” — who had not been to church for 42 years, and who was now attending Church With U.
One morning, I met his wife. She serves on the “U Crew,” and was preparing coffee before church. According to her, Sam had not only connected with a church, but with God Himself. “He never puts his Bible down,” she said. “He reads it all day long.” She told me what a difference she had seen in her husband of 47 years, and in their entire family, since that first visit to Church With U.
I was intrigued. I mean, what makes a person go to church again after being away for 42 years — and stay?! I just had to meet this man. Certainly, he would have some revolutionary insight for me…an elusive secret ingredient we could bring to our own church plant, giving us the superpower to attract people who had been turned off for decades. (insert maniacal laugh here?)
So with the glaring “WHY?” in my mind, I struck up a conversation with Sam, a tall, burly man with a gray beard and a straightforward demeanor. I couldn't wait for the golden nugget of insight, the lightning bolt that would help us help countless more Sams wherever we end up — something I had never heard before.
But what I got from Sam was so NOT revolutionary, it is revolutionary.
Basically, Sam felt welcomed at Church With U. He felt included.
“They didn’t shun the sinner,” he said. “Church is supposed to be a hospital for sinners.”
Still, I thought, there must be more to it. So I pressed the issue — what could our church plant do to reach someone like Sam?
His answer? “You’ve got to have the love.”
Love. That’s it.
Love that reaches out to meet needs. Love that is unconditional, and welcomes people in. Love that focuses on others, and not ourselves. Love that goes out of its way to connect people.
Easy to say, but impossible to do without God’s power at work within us. So keep it up, Potter! Keep working on me, so that I’m not so much me, but a lot more You.