Life just doesn’t go the way you planned sometimes. These past few weeks have been such a time. People you love dying; people you love getting sick; people you love struggling emotionally. I’ve never been someone who believed that just because you follow Jesus everything should be great, but it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy the pain. Jesus did promise us one thing for sure … in this world we would have trouble. This world.
I am convinced more than ever that if we don’t change the way we “do” church, our pain is going to increase. It’s hard enough, even when you have fellow believers walking with you. But to really have the peace that Jesus was talking about in that same area of scripture, it is going to take a much better effort than we’re making presently.
When I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together,” I wept. I have experienced just a bit of this type of community before in the 80’s and it was wonderful. I touched it; it touched me. Now, as a pastor, I find my insecurities trying to hold me hostage to the church growth pressure that seems to be promoted in every piece of religious junk mail, and web site. All the while, in my heart, I sense a growing sense of hunger for Life Together. What a contrast and confusing struggle this can be.
Pain and disillusionment come to churches. The closer the group, the more pain. But also, the closer the group the more comfort that can be shared within the group. I think I’m close to seeing a little bit of what God wants for us at the Vineyard, here in MB. God doesn’t seem to be letting us get by with just having meetings (thank you Lord). He wants for us to do the hard work of doing Life Together, and carrying one another through these hard times is part of the building process. I do think there are many people who want this, and churches can grow as they do Life Together. But, it’s probably going to be much slower. I’ve settled (well, maybe not quite, but I’m trying) that what we are endeavoring to do may take longer than I will have time to get it done. Maybe I’ll be a part of the foundation and the next generation will take it and actually experience the growth and hope of doing Life Together.
In the future it’s my prayer that the church will be at its best when Life Sucks. It will be a place where the hopeless find hope, and the broken find a group of broken people who have a Peace that they can share with others, even though they too may be hurting.