Here is my third installment of “Things That Didn’t Matter To Me That Now Do (Part 3).” For a complete picture, you also need to see Part 1 and Part 2, as well as my Top 10 List of Things I Don’t Care About Anymore (Part 1 and Part 2).
4. Mercy: I’m so different than I used to be, I really am. I’ve been the recipient of so much grace that it has changed the entire way I interact with the rest of the world. Don’t get me wrong, if you somehow show up late to an appointment I may still never speak to you again. But I gravitate to the screwed up people with messed up lives and a list of regrets. We are so diligent in our churches as doing the best we can that sometimes we write people off after one lousy performance. Mercy isn’t just for the cross, it is for the way we disciple and invest in others. Just please don’t be late if you have a meeting scheduled with me. And forgive me if I am.
5. Childcare: I didn’t understand this before I had kids. Childcare at church events is like free pizza or snacks for a Junior High summer event. It may not guarantee people will show up, but it is pretty much a prerequisite. In fact, you can’t just make childcare available, you have to make it amazing. It is probably the most important part of any event you plan. If you screw this up, everything else is an automatic FAIL in the eyes of the people we’re trying to reach and connect with. The microphone can make several loud pops doing your worship set… we’ll survive. The power can go out… people will laugh. Your speaker can walk out on stage with their fly open… no problem. But fail to provide enough quality workers and a safe environment for childcare? Do you think you’ll survive that?
Childcare at the church where I serve is amazing. It is secure, it is professional, and my kids like being there. Everything from the decorations, the signage, the toys and activities available, and the workers are just great. It is a place kids “get to go” not a place they have to endure while my wife and I are serving in the church. There are even several of our college students and young adults who are a part of the staffing rotation with married adults because it is such a great place to serve on Sundays. At our church, the preschool & children’s ministries have a great reputation and are a huge part of why we are known as a church for young families.
Have you recently spent some time around young parents? I have. They talk about things that are important to their family. They’re going to talk about your childcare program. What will they say to other mothers about childcare at your church?
6. Accountability: My first exposure to “accountability” as a young Christian guy in the 90’s was this: You got assigned a partner and sat down with another guy, told him everything you have or might do bad in this world, you pray, and you are rewarded by God somehow. This was all the rage in the 1990’s religious pop culture while we sported DC Talk concert tees and Supertones bumper stickers…
The problem I encountered was that after my first sit down with a local pastor who was my assigned “accountability partner” I found myself two days later in the living room of a layperson in our church being taken to task over the various sins I committed against God and everyone else. HOW LIKELY do you think I was to sit down a second time with that guy? HOW LIKELY was I to be honest and open about where I was at spiritually with others in the church after that experience? After that debacle, I became jaded about the stated intentions of church leaders and pastors, whether I was right or wrong. Like 99% of you reading this, I never felt like had someone “older” and “wiser” that I could talk to or spend time with on a consistent basis (whether this was true or not). When I did swallow my pride as a 21 year old guy and approach some men in authority about issues like “sexual sin” or not feeling like I “loved” God, I walked away feeling like I was the only sinful wreck that ever even thought of such blasphemy. It was rough, man.
Look, I can’t be there for every young guy that needs someone to invest in him and neither can you. We have to pick and choose who we invest in. But I think accountability is something relational and organic, not a program that can be bought and sold from a box. I value accountability now because I didn’t have real authentic connectedness with other christian dudes in days long past. At least, I didn’t think I did at the time.
7. Staying Quiet-ish: I just don’t feel like arguing about stuff anymore. I used to try and deal with every issue I could get my hands on in the church, but it can be a major waste of time. If I keep my mouth shut and don’t rip you to shreds while you complain about the worship music so that when you’re done and nobody supports your opinion and you walk away after awkward silence, we can get back to the task at hand.
8. Your Ideas (At Least, Some of You): Long ago I felt pressure to be the originator of every idea, all the hard work, and all solutions in the world in order to be any good in ministry. I know a lot of guys that are still like this. You can usually pick them out in group conversations because they one up everyone else’s story, prayer request, and/or opinion. This is a pretty stupid mindset, and it doesn’t encourage or equip anybody else. I guess I grew up.
That is my third installment of “Things That Didn’t Matter To Me That Now Do.” For a complete picture, you also need to see Part 1 and Part 2, as well as my Top 10 List of Things I Don’t Care About Anymore (Part 1 and Part 2).