If you had to choose one, which would it be:
a. Support a church family that is currently grieving
b. Offer an outreach event to support Easter worship
For months we’ve been building up a Wii bowling tournament we’re hosting. The idea is that it gets people into our building, introduces them to our congregation, and gives us a direct chance to invite to Easter. It’s pre-evangelism. It’s a way to get names and addresses for our prospect list. Using these names, I’ll personally invite each person to Easter during the following week. Fun and simple! We’ve got ads in the newspaper (yay free advertising!), online, and in other places. We’re holding the event this coming Saturday. Good times!
Today after worship, a phone call changed the atmosphere. One of our members, a young single mother, was found dead in her bed. Cause of death unknown.
I love being in a small congregation. We all prayed together – with the family. We grieved together. We felt the absence of this person. It is good to mourn with your brothers and sisters. It is good to admit that death sucks, but we need not fear it.
But now…. Now, it appears that the family will choose Saturday for the funeral.
I will admit: I may be making a fuss over nothing. I’m hoping I am. Perhaps they’ll select Friday. Or Monday. But, I know this family. I suspect they’ll pick Saturday.
And the problem is… we’re a small congregation. We can really only host one event.
Do I cancel the outreach event that several in our congregation labored for? Do I cancel our chief outreach for Easter? Does that leave a bad taste in the mouths of our volunteers or our prospects who planned to come? Even if I cancel, not everyone will get the news – we’ll have prospect families show up anyway.
On the other hand, that shows real love and concern for a member family. It brings the congregation together to mourn together, as we’ve been instructed to.
Or do I ask the funeral to move? After all, the building is already booked.
Really? Ask a funeral to move so we can play video games? And how many will feel betrayed that they can’t come to the funeral for something so silly as games? Yes, sure, it’s outreach, but that can be done any time, can’t it?
You see my dilemma. There is no “right” answer here. There’s also not a “wrong” answer (though there are a myriad of ways that either answer can go horribly, horribly wrong).
Oh. It hurts to breathe. Why does it hurt to breathe? Is this my old lung ailment returning? Wonderful timing!
A week from today I’m supposed to confirm two different groups of adults. What a blessing! We need two meetings this week with both groups. Can I still fit that in?
Don’t forget that Wednesday night is that premarital counseling session.
Months ago I agreed to narrate a local high school’s Easter concert. I need to be at practice.
When it Lents, it pours.
They told us about this at Seminary. They said that Satan will do all he can to take away the center of the season. That Murphey’s Law reigns supreme the closer the minister gets to Easter.
I’m getting an ulcer worrying about all this. If I do one thing, I lose half the congregation. I do the other, I lose the other. My lungs are making it hard for me to stand up straight and talk. I don’t have time to teach the adults who want to know more about Jesus. But that’s what I’m here to do! Should I cancel helping out at the high school? Oh, I’m a dad. Kids. I should pay attention to those. Wife! There’s a Bride around here somewhere. I know there is!
Look at everything I have to do! There’s no way I can do it all. I can’t balance all this. Easter is bad enough with all this other crap loaded on.
I can’t handle this. It’s too much. That young mother rejoices in heaven. I’ll just join her there. You’ll take me now, right God? Right? Just like that!
But if I go, who will preach on Easter? Who will take care of my family? Who will save the church?
WHO WILL SAVE THE CHURCH IF I DON’T
Just, just shut up, ok?
It’s not up to you.
You have one job: Preach the Word. In season. Out of season.
The choices you make about how to best do that? Love your people. Tell them the choices you have. If they don’t like the choice, that’s on them, not you. Satan seeks to deprive you of the joy of sharing the Word. He fears the Gospel you wield and seeks to tear it away with fear.
With you thinking it’s up to you to save the church.
Pastor, shut up. You can’t save your church. You don’t have the power to change one hair from black to gray. You think you can save the church?
That’s my job.
Stop trying to take my job. Repent of thinking your God. You’re not. I am. Would you break the first commandment “for the good of the ministry?” Be still. Know that I am God.
This is Lent: That I have suffered for you. I paid the price for your sins. I did all this willingly. Pastor, I carry the weight of my church. Not you. I paid for their sins. Not you. Those people that you struggle for? I paid for them. They are mine. Those sheep you fear? They are mine, as much as you are.
Pastor, I will not promise you will be happy with the results of this week. I will promise to take what happens for your good, but you may never recognize that good.
What should you do: comfort my people or share my Word with others?
I give you freedom to figure out how to best do that. Cancel one thing for now? Ask another to move? You’re not working for their approval. And you already have my approval, my son. Why should you fear what they think? And I will take whatever choice you make and make it a blessing to others, even if they refuse to see it.
Pastor, be still.
I am God.
You are not.