One of my morning rituals that I really quite enjoy, is getting to pour the first cup of coffee for my wife. There’s something about that simple act of service (and a nice steamy cup of coffee) that starts my day out right. Service, so it seems, doesn’t have to be extravagant, just heartfelt.
But amongst the routine, I’ve also noticed something else in the last week. You see, my wife likes cream in her coffee, while I take mine black, and as I pour us each a cup of coffee, I have to open the refrigerator, grab the cream, add it to her cup, and then put it back. And at times, I feel inconvenienced.
A pretty silly thing to be inconvenienced by isn’t it? That one extra step of pouring creamer into a cup?
But my thought process is something like, “Ugh. It’s just annoying having to do this when I don’t want it.”
Doesn’t make much sense. I feel inconvenienced because of something that she wants and likes, and sometimes it’s enough to make me not want to get her coffee.
And besides showing me how incredibly shallow I can be, it also showed me a lot about the church.
I think a lot of our service opportunities or ministries within the church are done from this perspective. Oftentimes our overriding question (whether we know it or not) is, “What kind of thing would I like or want to come to?”
Take a look at the majority of the programs within a church, and you could generally get the feeling that it was a program designed by Christians to target other Christians or who would hope that those they reach have some sort of background or previous experience with Christianity. Very rarely are our programs designed from the perspective of those that don’t know Christ.
And the problem is that far too many of us have been Christian for too long, and we can’t not think Christian. Our overriding perception and motive is that we want something that we enjoy, and think others should too.
Sort of like my morning routine with coffee. I become bothered at times when my wife prefers something different than I do.
And within the church, we become bothered when what we responded to in our Christian faith (AWANA, Sunday School, MOPS, Quilters Corner, or whatever it may have been) doesn’t resonate with others.
Essentially what we’ve done is we’ve lost our imagination, creativity, and diversity. We try to make people (a varied group of age, race, gender, economic status, national heritage, and philosophy) look and come to faith like we did, trying to create everyone to essentially look the same.
Our thought is, “If it worked for me it ought to work for them.”
Instead, I think we need to recapture our imagination, and when planning or dreaming of how to plan new ideas or events in the church, think like a non-Christian, or at the very least, as a Christian that hasn’t lost touch with society, culture, or the needs and hurts among their non-Christian friends.
Here are five ideas from the early Jesus followers that give us the impetus behind this and move us forward in our faith:
When we plan our services to be geared for or to Christians, all we are going to get are Christians from other places. Instead, we need to recapture a prophetic imagination that not only speaks to diversity within the body of Christ, but within the world at large. When we plan service opportunities based on what we can get out of it, we aren’t really serving, we are practicing self-glorification. When we pour others a cup of coffee, it should be a sincere act of service based on what they want, not our feelings or desires.