Posted by Pastor Stuart

Is it me, or do we have a lot of stuff going on at church? Well, it’s not just me, because we do have lots of stuff going on, and it’s wonderful! I look over the different announcements and events in this newsletter, and I’m excited by all that we do as a church. God’s Spirit is always active and moving, and I love when we are actively moving with it.

But we don’t want to just be busy for the sake of being busy. That’s a temptation too many people give in to. They think that the more things they do, the more meaning their life has. Being busy provides an artificial sense of purpose: “I’m accomplishing so much in life. Just look at how busy I am!” They take on so many responsibilities for work, family, community, and even church, that they are spread too thin, grow too weary, and become too distracted to contribute their best.

Churches succumb to that temptation too. They think that simply by doing more stuff, they are being better Christians and pleasing God more. But that strays too close to the mindset of “works = holiness” instead of “God’s grace = holiness.” Remember, God wants your quality, not your quantity. (See Luke 21:1-4 and Isaiah 1:11-17.) When a church gets busy for busy’s sake, it loses its focus just like individuals do.

But I don’t think we’re veering that way. I think our activities are heartfelt gifts that we plan, produce, and then give to God in the hope of building the kingdom. So how can we make sure to keep that mindset, and not give in to the pressure of quantity over quality?

A lot of churches do a lot of things; many are similar to things we do. But Hickory Rock has a secret ingredient that other places don’t have. Want to know what it is? Well it’s a secret, so lean in close… closer… Okay, the secret ingredient that blesses our work and fills our activities with godly joy is… you! Nobody else and no other church can give what you can give: the gift of yourself. And the more of you there is, the richer our activities will be. When you give of yourself, you make things special.

Some churches approach the special activities they do like programs that are strictly constructed to attract new customers. And then in Sunday worship, it’s also treated like a program, or a show, designed for spectators to sit, watch, and be amazed. But I don’t think that’s the best way to go, because there is no engagement and no involvement. Everything is done for people instead of with people. And the more things we can do with people, the richer our fellowship will be.

One of the most rewarding things for me as a pastor is helping people tap into God’s will for their lives by helping them find a way to contribute. I love it when people find a job, a role, or a thing they are good at that they can do to serve others. The church as a whole should be a place where people can discover, use, and develop their gifts. That will make our activities the best they can possibly be: when more people are using more of their gifts. So, when you give of your time and energy to one of our great activities, you are giving something invaluable that no one else can: the gift of yourself. I hope you will look for ways to give that gift more often. Our church will be all the better for it!

Grace and peace,

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