Wow. December just kind of snuck up on us. One of the transitions we are trying to make is a transition away from an event-focused or event-driven ministry. I’ve written about this before. It’s part of the attractional-missional dichotomy. Rather than working so hard to lure people into our assemblies, we should be finding ways of going out into the community around us and joining God in his work there. Events are so labor-intensive and (if you’re an introvert like me) also very exhausting.
And the fruit is debatable. We work hard to attract people with concerts, English, parties, meals, workshops, and so on in order to create spaces to build relationships and share our faith. But often, the people are converted to what they are attracted to–and not necessarily the life of following Jesus. So they need to be re-converted. And there is usually some fall out at this point. Which brings me to really question the actual effectiveness of events. Do they facilitate discipleship more than, say, going out and actually serving the community in visceral and transformative ways?
What if we asked what life in our neighborhoods (as well as in our families, churches, individual lives, etc.) would look like if God’s will were actually being done in them as it is in heaven, and then worked hard to make life conform a little more to that vision? What would our ministry look like then? What if we took all of the man (and woman!) hours devoted to planning and hosting events, and transferred them to service in the community according to Jesus’ example? You think folks might notice? And when some are attracted or want to join in the service, they are attracted to something nearer the heart of Christ, I think, than an exotic international party.
At the same time, I know that God works through a host of our feeble and misguided efforts. Good things happen. Relationships are built. People come to know and follow Christ. I just think we could be more intentional and better stewards in our focus and method.
ALL OF THAT SAID… Christmas is a time when it’s nearly impossible to avoid events–especially if you sing. So we had a blast singing for the neighborhood get together that Kizuna Friends organizes (now about once a month). This is a gathering of our neighbors. I sang Christmas songs for them. We read from the Book of Isaiah. Played BINGO (free) and ate fried Chicken. One of my favorite things is watching my family mix with the crowd. Michiko is great with these folks, many of whom are elderly. And our kids think they are all extended grandpas and grandmas. And you know that just melts the hearts of these tough fishermen.
Andy, Lorna, Jonathan Catharine, Chami, Tsubasa, Stephen, and the rest of the gang from Kizuna Friends and ICC always do a great job with this *event.*