Church STOP


Lent is the season of repentance and preparation for Easter.  We confess our life fails and reboot our heart because Jesus offered his life for us, because he loved and loves us.  Lent is a season of cleaning out for a new start.  We do this work during Lent in order to grow closer to God. 

I wonder if the Church, as a Church community should also be honest about our fails and clear our heart-space to get a clean start in Easter.  I assume here that you know the church messes up from time to time and needs forgiveness just as much (maybe more) than individuals (you and me).  If this is news to you, I’m not sure where you’ve been or if you missed that history class in school.  Over the millennia, the Christian church has messed up a lot and certainly needs to repent for the ways in which we’ve done harm.  Without getting into a historic diatribe about Christian failure, I wonder if there are specific ways we, at UMC Vista, could do a little Lenten work to heal some of these relationships right now. 

Here are 5 things that Rev. Ben Gosden, an associate pastor at Mulberry St. UMC in Georgia, says that the church could quit doing for Lent and start healing relationships and growing closer to God as a community of faith.  1) Stop working people to death.  Is it time to quit expecting church members to attend 3 to 5 committees a month and free up time for families to study and pray together?  If we reduced the church work load, perhaps we could offer rest time or service time for getting outside the walls of church to do the work of God in the world.  2) Stop viewing visitors, especially young families, as investments for the future of our church.  We do it all the time.  Folks come and we view them as a potential worker-bee for our future.  Maybe we could stop viewing visitors as people who could give the church something, and start connecting them with new faith friends and grow joyful relationships. 

3) Stop thinking young clergy are the key to bringing in younger members.  Young clergy have energy, but they shouldn’t been expected to carry the burden of being a magnet for young people.  It’s the job of the whole congregation to engage and welcome families.  And if a more mature pastor is your leader, maybe stop giving them the guilt of not being a young adult anymore.  4) Stop being so inwardly focused.  Yes, yes, we watch over one another with love and affection.  We are the incubator of faith but Jesus was all about getting out and getting around to the ones in need.  So, the carpet needs to not be a trip hazard, AND we need to get out and about to share faith and offer Jesus-like compassion.  5) Stop being petty.  We don’t mean to be but churches can be mean and petty and just cruel to one another.  Because the symbols of our faith and our investment in our activities mean so much to us, sometimes churchy folks are a little less than receptive to change or new ways of being.  Maybe the church shouldn’t be treated like Fort Knox but more like the test ground for regenerative joy! 

I didn’t make these 5 things up and I’m not saying they are all on point.  But perhaps this is a starting list for thinking about what the church should stop doing during Lent.  Perhaps we shouldn’t just tell each other and people outside our walls to ‘give something up’ for Lentmaybe we should consider, as a Faith Community, what we should ‘give up’ for Lent.  For more on this check out Ministry Matters online and the article 5 Things The Church Should Stop For Lent.  What would you add to the list, as we seek a new relationship with God and all of Creation? 

God Bless you today and everyday! 

Pastor Leigh Ann  

Leave a Reply