Behind the Post: Beyond the God-Box
Each week I write a column, actually more of a letter, to preachers. It’s usually on the Gospel reading appointed for the coming Sunday and often offers not just some perspective on the reading but a suggestion or two for how to involve the congregation more directly in the sermon. I won’t often comment on those pieces here – too much else to write about! – and I promise I’ll never simply repost those pieces, but I feel so strongly about the issue that animates this week’s letter that I wanted to touch briefly on it here and engage you in the conversation.
I’ll link the article here, but in case you don’t want to read the whole thing , here’s the gist: we have somehow conveyed the idea that what matters most to God is going to church on Sundays. Further, we have absorbed the idea that to talk about “a Christian calling” is to talk about what we do in church (teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, etc.) and speaking about “connecting faith and life” is actually about evangelism (something most of us don’t feel terribly competent to do in the first place).
So here’s my concern. While I obviously think there’s a lot to commend about going to church, singing in the choir, and sharing our faith, I’m really worried that we’re missing out on all that God is doing in and through our everyday roles at home, work, school, and all kinds of other places. As one of the preachers remarked in a comment on this week’s letter, when she asked her parishioners to bring in pictures of where God was active in their lives they didn’t bring in pictures from home and work but from church!
Again, I think church is great. But I believe strongly that church is not the destination; rather, the world God loves so much is the place we are called to live out our faith. Church, at its best, is the place that trains us to recognize God at work in the rest of our lives and prepares us to join God in that work.
So what do you think? Do you consider the things with which you spend most of your time worthy of God’s attention and the church’s? Does what you do day in and day out “count” as a call if it’s not in the church? And does your congregation invite you to come to church, or prepare you to leave? Finally, what would help you claim more arenas of your life as places where God is at work to love and bless this world?
Let me know and I promise I’ll share what I hear with today’s working preachers!