This morning someone said to me, “Last night on Facebook I saw that it said ‘BYOC – Bring Your Own Chair.’ I asked a friend, ‘Do you think she is kidding? Because we really never know what to expect!’ Andrea, I had some fear you were going to have us sitting outside . . and it’s a little cold.”
The “No Bad Ideas Team” had the idea to have a PARTY type atmosphere to kick off Palm Sunday. West has amazing musicians and vocals, why not give a venue for people to hear great music, have fun, and enjoy the company of one another. Wasn’t that the same atmosphere over 2000 years ago when Jesus first began the descent into Jerusalem?
Bottom line – West had folks scared to come to worship this morning.
The interesting thing to me is . . . they came anyway.
The depth of that commitment doesn’t escape me.
Not only does it still resonate with me, it motivates me.
It pushes me to remember – that what we do in leadership, it matters.
We must continue, regardless of how tricky, how unknown, how nebulous . . . we have to keep trying to offer new pathways.
Here’s why . . .
I listened to a sermon by Francis Chan on YouTube called, “If Jesus were the pastor of your church you probably wouldn’t go there.”
Chan’s point was that Jesus said difficult things.
Yes – there were the good, happy things.
“I am the light of the world.”
“I am the good shepherd.”
“I am the bread of life.”
“My peace I leave with you, not as the world gives but as I give. Do not let your hearts be troubled, do not be afraid.”
Those warm fuzzy things . . .
Yet he also had some rather challenging things to say.
“If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
“Love your enemies.”
“Do not judge.”
“Pick up your cross and follow me.”
“All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them.”
The NOT SO WARM FUZZY things.
If we heard Jesus say those words in “our” churches, would we stay?
Every time we do something “different” at West – like a “No Huddles Day” instead of a message or a unique way of honoring a high holy day like Palm Sunday instead of doing it the “normal church” way, I freak out a bit. Actually – a lot.
I worry, “How many will leave before they even give it a chance? How many will think, ‘This is not the way “I” like church. There’s no way I am going to stay.'”
If I get really honest . . . I ask, “Can West afford it if I run off one more person? One more family?” (Not all are happy with a place where folks can ask questions about faith or a place where “ALL really means ALL!”)
It would be so much easier if I would walk the middle of the road . . . not rock the boat.
But as I was reminded by Chan’s message, the easy way is not the Jesus way.
So – to the ones who “go to church” even when you don’t know what to expect or how it will all come together . . . and to those who are parts of communities of faith, even when you don’t agree with decisions because they aren’t “your way” . . . a huge shout out to you!
Today reminded me why West does what it does . . .
We’ve been charged to offer all people pathways to encounter the love of God in non-traditional (non-churchy/institutional) ways. It’s scary . . . it’s against every grain that I’ve ever learned. It challenges my tradition, my own belief system, and what I am “comfortable” with doing. However, today I was reminded . . . my way isn’t necessarily the Jesus way.
I was reminded that because folks had to bring their own chairs to “church.”
And they chose to come anyway.