We’ve all heard it. It’s not you it’s me…
For some reason saying this is supposed to make the other person feel better. Shoot I’ve said it before, and I’ve had it said to me. The problem is it’s not true, at best it’s a half truth, mainly because the person ending things is making a concrete decision to end the relationship, but as we all know there are always reasons for the ending, and those are more wrapped up in the other person than many of us care to admit.
When I end a relationship with someone I am making a conscious decision based on many factors, all of which have something to do with the other person. The realization that it’s a cop out was always at the back of my mind, a way to try and take away the fact that in many cases I was being a jerk and didn’t really want to face the fact that the individual wasn’t really meeting whatever need I felt they should meet, didn’t fit in my long term plan, or more likely had begun to bore me and well yea see the whole I was being a jerk at the beginning of this sentence.
The thing is as a pastor of a small church that is working hard at being intentional about building an authentic community (all great buzz words but still true) seeing people who looked like they were going to stick, who even said they were going to stick leave after a few weeks never to return, it’s hard. Worse still is the realization that I have done the same thing in churches. Looking at them and sizing them up and instead of just coming out and saying the reasons that I have moved on, I try and soften the blow. Sure it’s nice to be told that you aren’t the reason for an exit, especially from the church and at times that is true, but that’s not really important.
Pastors are interesting people. We are supposed to have answers to questions that at times are unanswerable. We are supposed to be able to speak words of wisdom and encouragment and yea. You get the idea. If we really believe what the Bible says in Acts about God adding to the church daily such as were being saved, the need for validation that stems from people coming to church wouldn’t be so important, but that’s just not the case, at least it’s not the case for me. The thing is I thought I was bigger than that, I have always thought I was bigger than that but the truth is when you’re doing something and have been doing it and you derive your sense of self from it, and it doens’t do what you want it to do, or how hou want it to do it, you begin to quesiton so much of yourself, and you come to the realization that you really aren’t where you thought you were, or where you should be.
The thing is it is me, it’s me that puts way to much pressure on myself to do the work that God has promised he would do, it’s me who takes it personally when someone doen’st like me, or when percieve they don’t like me, it’s me that looks out and sees an almost empty church. All of those things pour out of me in imperceptable ways, at least imperseptable to me.
Now having said all of this we have something really cool happening at the church. It’s completly counter intuitive, in fact it should’t work. Starting this past Valtentines day we went to two services, most churchs only go to a second service when there are too many people, we went to two services when there were barely enough to sustain one, and in moving to a two service format, we saw an increase in attendance across both services.
Our 9 AM service is decidedly traditional, all hymns, formal readings and calls to worship, I wear a robe to preach, and even though I know all churches have a literugy that they follow (there ya go Father Jim) this service is what I would term more liturgical in nature. Our 11 AM service is contemporary, differnt music, more laid back, no robe, I use a stool, other ways to interact. It’s great.
The really cool thing though is that I thoroughly enjoy both services. I feel a connection in both to the people and to the message that I haven’t felt in the past two years. So what does all this mean. I don’t really know. I know that there are people that have said it’s not you it’s me when it comes to being a part of the church, and I know that may be true, but kind of dobut it, but thats all okay. One of the things to realize is that we are doing someting very new and differnt for our church, and we are beginning to see God give the increase.
I can’t wait to see what happens next, and to have the opportunity to take you on the journy with us.
Promise I’ll write more in the coming months.