Merry Christmas 2010

Hey everyone, I hope your day is going well so far!  I love enjoying this time with my family and friends.  To all my readers, have a blessed Christmas and a very HAPPY New Year!

I’ve included for your reading the text of what I shared last night to my church family (modified a bit for the context here).  Enjoy!

We all know about Christmas. We all know that it’s commercial thing with a frenzy of gift buying and gift wanting, and “stuff” being exchanged. We all know that it’s a nostalgia thing, with the Christmas plays, the nativity scene, Santa Claus, elves, reindeer, tinsel, decorations, lights and carols, and movies we’ve seen every year. We know that Christmas is a food thing, the chocolates, the turkeys, the stuffing, the oranges, the baked goodies. Oh, the baked goodies.

There are many things we know Christmas for and many things we’ve become familiar with. Familiar. There’s danger in that. The danger of Christmas, the season, the event, is that we get so familiar we lose the wonder of what Christmas really represents. The wonder of the INCARNATION. It’s really not a word you hear too much. But it is a word that captures the wonder of what happened. God coming in flesh on this planet. Tonight, for just a few minutes, I hope to remind you of this wonder. To have you pause in awe at the majesty and significance of what can be robbed by the familiar.

which has the greater impact?

A while ago I read an interesting article by Miles McPherson on the Catalyst Blog that begins with a great question,

If your church closed down tomorrow, would anyone notice? Would there be a negative impact on your community?

I think every church has a desire to have an impact in their community.  Even the church I work at, has this desire written into our purpose statement.  But it is important to evaluate what kind of impact we are really having. A good start is Mile’s question.

Then, in the article Miles goes on to say the following:

Imagine if people in your congregation were initiating contact with community agencies, building positive relationships, and securing partnerships for the ministry.

He describes how his church has intentionally encouraged their people to volunteer in various community organizations in their city, outside the church walls.  He describes the impact they are making as a result.

Included in the article is a marketing pitch for a resource they are releasing,  but the question Miles asked is the same question I’ve often grappled with.  Is our impact more measurable by the things we do outside the walls of the church or inside the church?  Certainly, we need volunteers to implement all the activities in the church:

  • musicians, singers, sound tech, media operators etc. for worship services
  • ushers, greeters.
  • children’s workers
  • class teachers

I don’t discount their value.  But I wonder, would it be worthwhile to keep things in the church as simple as possible so we can encourage people to have more impact outside the church in the time they have available to give?

Let’s flip this around a bit.  How often does the church berate or complain about people not attending and showing their commitment to church activity and programming when some of those same people are volunteering in the midst of the community we’re called to reach by:

  • serving as coaches, helpers, fundraisers in their sports organizations
  • volunteering at their local schools
  • participating in organizations like, Heart and Stroke foundation, Red Cross etc.
  • participating in a neighborhood association…
  • involved in organizations like the Rotary Club, or other clubs like it…
  • helping out with soup kitchens, homeless shelters

What do you think? How do you see the church of Christ making the biggest impact? How do we get there?