One of the joys of ministry over the last two years has been my Disciple Bible Study class. One of the things that made it such a joy was watching people who assumed they knew the Bible to then confront the message that is actually in there. Having a seminary degree, the class members naturally turned to me for ‘the right answer’. Often, I had to tell them that finding the ‘right answer’ was not what we were looking for. Week after week, I told them we wanted to find the ‘right questions’. They got tired of hearing me say that, but came to understand what I meant. I told them over and over, I went to seminary looking for answers to my questions only find I was asking the wrong ones.
Today, a phone call turned around my bad week. Some at my church want to look at opportunities to meet together, such as a mid-week meal. Included in the evening would be other activities; some religious, others not. Of course in the back of our minds is more than just gathering those who come to church, but also looking to outreach. For many in my three churches (and no doubt in many others), this is phrased as, ‘How do we get people to come on Sunday morning?’ This phone call today gave me the opportunity to think through this with one of my members. I told them this is the wrong question – that if we try to figure out how to get people to change their minds about what they normally do on Sundays and come to church on Sunday, then we have already lost the plot.
Then, my friend began to think and he said, ‘So, we are trying to figure out how people can encounter God the other six days in the week?’ I almost shouted, ‘That’s the question we need to be asking!’ Of course, I don’t have the answer, and this makes the situation explode into all kinds of complexities, but also opportunities! It changed my week because I felt I wasn’t alone. Someone else is looking beyond changing the normal routine and asking ‘what if’ questions that could matter! It may take time. We may not see the results (the results may come long after), but now someone is asking questions that I ask rather than the same, tired Christendom questions that assumes that church ‘takes place’ on Sunday at 10:30 AM (whether with organ or worship band).