We recently purchased a new car that needed to have some extra gadgets installed. I took the car to the dealer this morning and I decided to kill some time and walked to the local Panera to do some work for church and to crank out around 3000 pages of reading prior to a class that I’m taking at the end of the month. As I was sitting at one of the tables a group of folks sat at the table next to me. The group was a committee from a local church meeting to do some planning for an event they were having in the community. The church seemed to be a large church because I kept hearing things like, “our four worship services.” They were speaking my language. The conversation sounded familiar.
As I sat and listened (Of course reading my book) I have to admit that the conversation they were having was very concerning to me as a pastor. It was very concerning to me as a follower of Jesus. It overwhelmed me. Their meeting gave me flashbacks of serving at a couple of other larger churches where it seemed that all we were ever doing was programming. We never really talked about the people and I wondered if I do the same thing even today as a pastor?
As the group sat and worked at planning this event, they covered every detail they could think of. They talked about child care that was needed. They talked about who was doing the food. They even talked about which committee needed to make the announcements in church and what the church secretaries job was for this event. What was concerning to me was that there was a huge element missing in their planning. I couldn’t figure it out until they left the table. They forgot to pray and to include God in the process. And I wondered if I do the same sometimes in the midst of the chaos of “planning church.” Now don’t get me wrong. They opened their planning meeting with prayer for the meal. I have no doubt these folks have a heart for the Lord and for the people they serve. Their planning seemed scattered. They were all over the map. At one point the conversation even took a turn for the worse in that the head of the committee made reference to a member in the church who had lost a ton of weight and was a huge success at a certain diet regimen and forgot that the lady sitting next to her was obviously dealing her own weight issues. I wanted to crawl out of my skin.
When they left the table I wanted so much to say, “Can I pray for you all?” I wanted so much to say, “what are you really trying to do in this event and who are you really trying to reach? I even wanted to pray that the church they were serving would come to know truly what it means to love others as Christ loves us. The church seemed stuck in some time warp in the 80’s where program and success were a priority over people and needed to be jolted back into 2008.
My prayer for 2008? That I’d include God in my planning. I want to be the kind of pastor that includes God in everything I say and do. I want to be the kind of pastor that adds the simplest of elements to planning. Prayer. I want to be a praying pastor. I want to be bold in the way I pray.
Something else in 2008? That I’d listen to the nudge of the Spirit when God tries to get my attention and wants me to do something that people usually don’t do for fear of looking silly. I should of offered a prayer for them as they were leaving.