It happened about six weeks ago.
My boss called from Texas to tell me that a visiter from the MINISTRY OF HEALTH was coming to my office to hear about our work. She would be accompanied by the people who hold our funding (i.e. the money that pays all of our bills) and representatives from the Health Authority. My boss said “It would be great if you could host them, this is very important”. Of course I said, though it was on my day off, though I would need to find some extra babysitting. The day before the important meeting I prepped the office, posted the posters that best illustrate our work, found some handouts they might like to see, dusted the meeting table. You know…the works. So all was looking great.
But. Then. My daughter woke up sick. Needed LOTS of me. She wanted to work in the garden so off we went. In sweat pants. Flip Flops. Unshowered. No make up. And…somehow…we lost track of time. At 2 pm, I realized we needed to hustle if we were to pick up my son from school on time. We ran out the door.
Flip flops. Sweat pants. No make up. No shower.
We met O after school, walked to the playground, visited with some precious friends, including another pastors wife from church.
At 3 pm we got in the car. I picked up my cell phone and a calendar alarm is going off. Isn’t that strange? What could that be?
Oh. Oh My.
My meeting is in 30 minutes. I have two children in my car. I AM IN SWEAT PANTS. I live in the woods, if I drive all the way home and back I will miss the meeting completely. I chase my friend from church across the highway and say:
“Hey, can my kids come play for an hour, I forgot about something”.
“Of course, my kids will be thrilled”
I literally put my kids on her stairs and squealed my tires out of the driveway. I drive fast. I find myself at Marks Work Warehouse (the only clothing store on this side of town). I RUN in. Grab a dress from the rack. I pay for it without trying it on. I run to my car. I start towards the university. I stop at a red light and I take off my shirt.
I can’t explain it.
I just did it.
It is more shocking to me than to you ok? Seriously. I don’t know what happened to my panic-stricken mind but in that moment of getting my new dress on, all I could think was “I CAN’T BELIEVE I FORGOT ABOUT THIS”.
So once I was dressed again and looked up to find my little Subaru surrounded by semi trucks terror-struck deep in my heart. “Did I just see Pastor Joel’s wife…???? No. Couldn’t be”. At least…I hope that is what everyone at Hwy 97 and Mccurdy thought.
You guys? I strode into that meeting less than five minutes late. My boss got an email from the Minister of Health telling her that isn’t it “so amazing when you get the right people in the right jobs?! Melissa is great”.
I picked up my children one hour later…they wanted to stay at my friend’s house.
SO WHY DID I TELL YOU THIS HORRIFYING TALE (it might also be awesome….my friend Alison sung me Amy Grant at a dinner party…I just heard this song for the first time and am dying) YOU ASK? Here is the point:
“Destination” churches are dying. Young people don’t believe in slick programs anymore. Driving across town to go to church DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. You need to build your community with the people with whom you are ACTUALLY doing life with. The friend I described above and I have been serving in the same ministry for almost a decade, but we did not become close friends until OUR LIVES STARTING CROSSING OVER. You can’t have genuine relationship with people you see once a month. You cannot be involved in someones life if you only see them across a busy foyer. You need to meet regularly in the nitty, gritty of life. In the school yard, the grocery store, the church service events, the small groups AND THE foyer.
I am not good at this friends. Ask anyone. I like my space.
Some people need loads more time than I do to fall into intimacy with people…I need very little to feel like we are best friends (it makes me kind of crappy a friend, except for the fact that I am in it for life). But the truth of it is I am ready to collect my people. I want you all in one place. Those of you who are wandering, not participating anywhere, why not come build the church of our dreams?
Or commit to your neighborhood church. I don’t care where you go actually. But it is time that church stopped being a destination to you. You do not need to go to EVERY event, that EVERY church has. You need one church. You need lots of different types of people. You need to be reminded of the beauty and the burden that is community.
I am a big believer in pendulum shifts in the church. Back and forth with the worship and the service and the evangelism and the discipleship. She swings wildly sometimes and us in service hold on tight. If the scaffolding is Jesus we will stand, if it isn’t? Well…Then we fall and start again and build up from the ground.
I’ve prayed it every year of our ministry. Every week of youth. “Lord God be ruthless with us, tear out every piece of us that hinders, collapse every aspect of us that ceases to glorify you”. You know what? He does…God help us…He does.
But it is a season to build. Will you join us?
Fall at Willow Park is going to be amazing. Pursuit is cooking. I am excited to build something that stands time, my friends. I want to watch you get married and I want to bring you a casserole when you have a baby. I want to sit beside you when the big uglies of life strike. I want to chase Jesus with you. I want you to have my back too.
If you are a Pursuit woman….will you join us on Sunday? Sarah Bessey (one of my favorite writers and author of an important book coming out this year) is speaking and then we are just going to spend the day having picnics and getting to know each other. Think of it like you are coming for a long tea party in the woods. Its going to be adorable.
I hope you will join us; in all sorts of ways.
(Sorry to spam your life…looks like I got over my finger laryngitis)
I love everything about this. The church of our dreams… and life together. Such good stuff. So looking forward to Sunday! ❤
Bring a bucket Vanessa!!!! The saskatoons are still good!!!!
Love this so much. Can’t wait to see you.
So much truth. Thank you for this reminder. We once went to a church that was more family than church. Since the pastor moved back to South Africa, and then two years later, we moved 1200 kms away, it’s been hard to find that same thing – people are so much more spread out in the bigger cities. Life is just in the way all the time, and someone at our small group on Wednesday night made the observation that she just wants to spend more time with people from the church, but LIFE happens and interferes. Yet, it’s LIFE that we should be doing together!
Wish we were much much closer to Kelowna, if only to hear Sarah Bessey ;).
You are really real. Love your writing. My church is my family.