The other day I saw the picture above on the Facebook.
What I find really interesting in that these 5 regrets are not only true about human beings who are dying, but also of those of the church.
I want to work through these, but why don’t we go backwards:
5.) I wish that I had let myself be happier
What if the church was a happier place?
When people walk into a church for the first time, are the people happy? And I mean genuinely happy.
What if the church focused on a mission that lead it’s congregation to be genuinely happier people?
People are getting angry at each other within the church, they get pissed at each other in board meetings, at how someone is dressed, at the music director (of which I am mega guilty), and so on.
The church is not a place of efficiency but a place where people are invited to live out what God calls them to!
4.) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
According to a report by Mission Insite, the Quadrennium report: 35% of people who are non-active in the church but who consider themselves to be a part of the church do not participate because they are not invited!
We spend so much time worried about the ever present “UNCHURCHED,” but we need to remember those who we have inside of our church that we are looking over!
Sooner or later you won’t see them any more!
3.) I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
The church lets other people express its feelings for them!
If I have one more non-Christian tell me what the church believes, I might go throw the roof!
I understand their pain from being hurt, or seeing through all the crap, but their experience isn’t THE SOLE CHRISTIAN FEELING!
If the church expressed itself honestly, by listening to the words and teachings of Jesus, and not the teachings of the consumerist culture, I think the church would be more vibrant!
Peter Rollins calls that “The Sell Church” in The Idolatry of God.
2.) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
This one is tricky.
The church doesn’t work hard enough, so maybe it should be “I wish I had worked harder!”
Maybe the church could work harder at being the body of Christ, that performs miracles, that changes lives, that does charity, that does justice.
But the more I think about, I wish I hadn’t worked so hard might be accurate.
The church works really hard at being exclusive.
The church works really hard at discriminating.
The church works really hard at burning out its elders and deacons, and laity, and pastors.
The church structures and polity set us up for this!
So yeah, I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
1.) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
The church simply does not live a life that is true to itself, and allows others expectations to define it and rule it.
Churches feel the need to do the same thing that the church down the road is doing.
“We need to do a VBS by Group publishing, because the church down the street is.”
NO! That is the worst reason!
Do something that is unique for your congregation!
What is it that your congregation does the best that no other congregation does?
What if instead of protesting abortion clinics, rock concerts, or whatever; why won’t the church protest itself, for being a den of thieves!
Be true to yourself, not to what the baptist church is doing down the street, or the evangelical, or the presbyterian church is doing.
The church needs to hear these five regrets and turn them into shameless, life giving “hallelujah’s!”
1.) A church that is unique and contextual, that is doing things because God is calling them to things not because the other churches are.
2.) A church that works hard at being compassionate, spreading unconditional love, and bringing about justice.
3.) A church that was courageous enough to express its true feelings!
4.) A church that concerns itself not only with the unchurched but with the members of the congregation!
5.) And a church that was actually creating an energy and environment of rejoicing!
Then maybe the church wouldn’t have regrets, because then maybe the church wouldn’t be dying.
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