“People don’t want to just read the responsive reading when they are told to.”
“People are weary of all the constraints.”
Perhaps you are familiar with the famous story told by Peter Drucker: “This reporter stops by a construction site and he interviews three bricklayers. He asks the first bricklayer, ‘What are you doing?’ And he says, ‘Well, I’m making a living laying these bricks.’ The reporter says, ‘Oh, that’s great. That’s very noble.’ He asks the next bricklayer, ‘What are you doing?’ And he says, ‘Well, I am practicing the profession of bricklaying. I’m going to be best bricklayer ever.’ And the reporter asks the third bricklayer, ‘What are you doing?’ And he says, ‘I’m building a cathedral.’”
It seems to me that most of us want to contribute to building a cathedral. Trouble is we become so preoccupied with the process of building that cathedral that we forget why we even showed-up for work. Though it is true that the small things matter they can distract us from what its all about – building a cathedral. Of course, the cathedral I speak of is figurative for most of us. Our cathedral may be a meaningful relationship with another, a successful career, a comfortable retirement or purposeful involvement with a charitable and life-changing organization.
As disciples of Jesus Christ (or as “members of the church” some would say) we have each pledged ourselves to building the grandest of cathedrals, The Church of Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about buildings but about people – building people in relationship to the person of Jesus. Young congregations do this well, making new followers and multiplying disciples for Jesus Christ. And as a result, lives are transformed (Hear a mission statement in that somewhere?). Young congregations know that together they are building a cathedral. Unfortunately, as many congregations mature (grow older) they become bricklayers. More time is spent writing “Responsive Readings” for worship than making disciples and placing constraints upon people who want to do ministry. Example: Telling someone that before they do something great for Jesus in the church they must first have committee approval and then Session approval. And friends, do I need to tell you that both bricklayers and cathedral builders become tired? Yet, of the two, cathedral builders rarely notice.
If we are going to be effective for Jesus Christ many reading this will need to change their focus and the way they speak around the church. Bricklayers argue about such things as “the worship service is too long” or, “someone is sitting in my place.” Cathedral builders care more about whether lives are being changed.