The problem: us.
Part of the solution: us.
Worship as an act of intentional obedience is an amazingly different concept from showing up to a large crowded room, hearing music, praying next to people, sharing resources (offering), greeting people and making small talk. But there is something big that is missing from that equation as it relates to how we worship. Us! Many of us meet up at the same place week after week and do not know each other's name. So many of us show up to church and are completely inauthentic. Many of us show up at the same function (church) weekly and engage the same people, but we also ignore the same people. Often unintentionally and certainly I presume without malice do we disengage from some and engage others.
Based on my own experience attending church regularly for most of my entire life, I notice that in most cases I am having the exact same or similar kinds of conversations with the same people week after week.
"Hey, what's up?"
"Good to see you today!"
"OMGOSH how was your week?!"
"Girl you are wearing those shoes!"
"Are you planning to go to _______________?"
Where is the depth? Why do I continue to engage people like this? People, we are the very salt of the earth, the reason why Christ came to live & die. People, God's most precious gift to Himself. And I am relating to people like I and they are not complex, fragile, and have an amazing purpose on this earth.
I have to do better. We have to be better. But before I challenge us, I want to examine why we engage and disengage like this. A few reasons below.
We are afraid of what others think about us.
We are intimidated by certain people.
We shy away from specific people because they trigger anxiety or hopelessness.
We shy away from specific people because they are always talking about deep stuff.
We are in a hurry.
We prefer to keep our friend circle small (almost non-existent lol)
We are not interested in certain people.
We consider ourselves to be private people.
OK! Here is the challenge. What if we decided to be more transparent and intentional in our interactions with every person we engage at church? After all, most of us would consider the people we go to church with to be our church family. And if that is the case for you, then why not allow our church family into our personal space. If the people you go to church with are your church family then why not share your stuff (resources, life, ups, downs, thoughts, ideas, imaginations, dreams and struggles) with them.
What if our transparency was worship. Actually the bible says that the way we make it to the other side of depression, fear, hopelessness, joblessness, poverty, addiction, mourning, college experience, a rough patch in our marriage, parenting, or a really difficult decision is through the blood of Jesus & a TESTIMONY (paraphrasing Revelation 12:11). So in a sense living a transparent life is worship.
My challenge to us is do not wait until the preacher or pastor solicits testimonies - let's live our testimony! We ought to be so ready to share a testimony that we are literally living it. Not waiting for the right moment to share a piece of yourself with someone. Do not wait for small group to engage someone in your congregation that you have not engaged before. Do not wait to do life with others. Let's live life together now. Let's change our narrative and commit to living the life that Christ died for together. Open. Engaging. Welcoming. Transparent.
This is a perfect season to discover what you have in common with people you may not know well or at all but you sit in the same pew together! This is a perfect time to learn the names of children that are close in age with your own children. This is a perfect time to do more with less. This is a perfect time to invite a family to your home that you have not had lunch with since you started going to your church. If we believe that Jesus is returning soon and that there may be a season leading up to His return that is troubling, in which our resources are lacking then it behooves us to get to know folks now! Don't wait til' we are "running" to the hills! Being transparent now, having more intentional relationships now will make "the time of trouble" a lot less uncomfortable.
Developing a transparent lifestyle is not easy. Can be uncomfortable and possibly painful due to shame. But it is powerful. It is purposeful. It is helpful. It is what is required to build strong & thriving communities. Let's live so transparent that no one will have to guess who you serve, who you love, what you stand for, or what you believe in. Let's live & be see through.