Ask Not What Your Church Can Do for You
Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church.
A long time ago... Maybe a little before conference, our minister opened his sermon with this mis-quote from John F. Kennedy.
I've thought about it quite a bit since then. Because I wonder if some of the problems in the church that we love to talk about and go round and round with no answers are because we are simply just expecting the church to fill our needs but not put in the sacrifice it will take to keep the whole thing progressing.
I've thought a lot about the sacrifices made thru the years. There were the apostles and martyrs of course, but I'm thinking about our own church's more recent journey since those first people came to Lone Tree Kansas.
There was the first brutal winter full of sickness and death. If I remember right, they were all living together in one building with no real privacy. I'm thinking there was a lot of submission and open communication needed to make that work!
Since then, there have been wars, where newlywed couples moved across the country to run voluntary service units. That generation remembers being confronted about their beliefs and ridiculed for wearing the beard. There was the time of starting private schools and I can't imagine what kind of faith that took because really if you try to explain the system to an outsider it doesn't seem like it would work!
There was the time when the mission programs began. I've talked to ladies who seem to have spent half their lives in Haiti. Some of them seem way too old to travel but they keep going back. They tell stories about leaving their vehicle at the bottom of a mountain and walking an hour up a dirt path to get to their mission house. And I always think one of the reasons some of those older couples still have Haitian friends that they're close to is because they didn't have WhatsApp and so they relied on local people for companionship.
My Haitian family still remembers that planting phase. They were a part of it. My mom in law's family rented their house to the missionaries in Abriko and they all grew up together. My dad in law joined the church in Port au Prince but he was one of the first people from the area where he grew up to have contact with the church and he was very enthusiastic about spreading the word to his family and friends in that area.
It seems like our generation in USA is enjoying the fruits of so many people's sacrifices. I have never been confronted about my religious beliefs. Actually I've had a lot of usually little old grandpas in Walmart say they think the way we dress is beautiful. It's stylish right now to have a beard and you can even buy fancy oils and beard products! When I taught school, we had teacher prep and school meeting and in service and all these programs to help us be successful. Most children in Mennonite schools make amazing grades and then we have all the other things like learning how to sing by the notes and having a safe place to form relationships. I think our school system is one of the most amazing things that our church has accomplished!
I just wonder when the next wave of sacrifices will come. Are we supposed to just enjoy our privilege for now? What really can we do for our church?
I was at conference and I raised my hand in support of all the decisions. Personally I felt like I needed to go thru my phone and get rid of a whole lot of junk, plus be a lot more careful where I was pointing my camera. And it's been a few months now and I haven't ever finished doing it. I wonder if I'm the only one? That's such a small sacrifice... How important is it?
Amid the changes that motherhood brings, namely spending a whole lot of time home alone with a tiny person who can't talk yet, I started listening to a whole lot of podcasts. They are mostly nice, educational ones about homemaking and child development. But the other day I was just thinking about if my girlie ever wondered why there was always this strange lady voice following us around everywhere. Then I was also thinking about how a successful podcast works. The person has to be passionate and opinionated about their topic, which usually means they tend to be a bit unbalanced. That type of person will be the one who gets more listeners. Then they start to sponsor different brands. These ads for products are what make the podcaster money, so they have to be extremely convincing in how they present them. I always think I can tune out ads and comments that I don't agree with and just pay attention to the helpful parts. And lately I have noticed that I've been checking products out on Amazon just because I've heard an ad for them 50 times in the past few weeks. And that makes me wonder if I am actually doing a very good job of filtering things out like I think. Because there could be more dangers than just wasting money on products to feed my baby that I don't really need if I get too caught up in the persuasive podcaster talk.
I read one time that we all want to be a part of something bigger than us. It seems like for any Christian, the Church should satisfy that need. But maybe sometimes we don't catch the vision of what the Church is all about - taking care of its members and adding more members. So if we buy into that cause - helping God take care of His people and helping spread the word to new people, will we get so mixed up about all the other little things? Seems like we won't need to find a cause to follow in the form of politics or sports or money or natural living or all those things that are harmless in one way but harmful when they become your "cause."
It all sounds great on paper, but how do you actually do it? 2023 is rolling by. I'm sitting out in the spring sunshine with a baby on a blanket and a house that's full of dirty laundry and dust bunnies. And I don't really know the answer... What CAN I do for my church?