I'm at the Richmond Hill Abbey for the annual Ecclesia Church Planters Bootcamp I've been privileged to help out with these last few years. It's always a good time for my soul- being able to teach and be taught, hanging out with some increasingly good friends like J.R. Briggs and Dave Fitch...
One of the best parts of the week is joining the morning, noon and evening prayers that the resident community has in their rhythm of life. Very liturgical, sometimes very somber, very different from where most of us church planters are coming from.
The thing about it is- I've noticed that everyone comes at the beginning of the week, but by the end... not so much. So this morning, I got a moment to challenge the planters here with something I try to keep in front of our community: the real reason we show up to corporate worship and prayer times.
I think for many, it's exciting because it's different, at least at first. But after a day or two, it feels a bit more like a routine, a little dry... and people start thinking about other things they could do with that time.
And that's where it's important to know why we show up.
As pastors, we call people to be present in corporate times primarily for God and for the sake of others. The question of whether it was "good" for us is really secondary or tertiary. The real issue is whether it was good for God.
We show up to be present to God: to stand with the community of people standing in front of Him in worship, bending our ears and hearts to hear His word. And yes, that's a discipline or at least if it doesn't feel that way now, just wait. It will.
But it's not as though the question of "is it good for us" is completely irrelevant. It's simply that we need to take a longer view. What I've found is that showing up in front of God, being present to Him and the community this way is forming in the aggregate. Like showing up to gym, no particular time I go is going to get me "in shape." But... if I keep showing up?
I encouraged the pastors today to do what we ask our people to do- show up faithfully to corporate times of prayer, be present to God, be more concerned about the question "Was it good for God" than "Was it good for me" and most of all- trust that as I'm present to God, He'll be present to me, forming me for mission and life not just in the entertaining, engaging moments when it's easy to be present but in and through the times when it's not so easy. In fact, I think I can safely say, He probably forms us more in the discipline and routine and the slightly uphill than the easy-going and enjoyable times.