This past Sunday, we began a new teaching series called, “It’s Your Move.” Over 4-weeks I’ll be presenting our church’s strategy for ministry in Temple, TX. It’s a simple church strategy. Thinking through the implications reminded me of this which I posted some time ago.
I never thought about grass getting too much water.
There’s a place on our church’s playground that’s dead grass. As far as I know, it’s always been dead. It’s a small rectangle, a different blend of grass from the rest of the playground. It’s at the corner of the playground where two sidewalks connect.
I’ve always been puzzled by the mud and dirt that settled there when the rest of the play yard has always been so lush. I think I may have figured out the mystery. As I walked a first-time visitor through our campus back to his car on Sunday, he almost stepped into that muddy corner. Flippantly, I said, “We’ve never been able to get grass to grow there.”
In an instant, he said, “Sure. It gets too much water.”
He went on to explain to me that it was evident that water from our sprinklers pooled in that corner and it was over-saturated. Grass won’t ever grow there.
Wow! The things an outsider can notice about your church.
Since Sunday my heart has had some clarity about factors contributing to the numerical decline of my faith family of origin – Churches of Christ. I posted some initial thoughts last week. While I still think those reasons are true, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to believe that we’re drying up because of too much water.
Here’s what I mean:
I grew up going to church at least three times a week – Sunday morning, Sunday night (the JV service), and Wednesday night. If the building was open, we were there. Some of you grew up the same way. It was a lot of watering (what some people refer to as “being fed.”)
This meant between school, work, and life in general, all our time was soaked up by the biscuit of church attendance. We studied the scriptures, heard sermons, memorized Bible verses, and had pot-lucks. Boy, did we have pot-lucks.
But all this church-going had at least two negative effects.
The first is that all a “good” Christian’s discretionary time gets burned up with church stuff. On its face, that sounds like a good thing. But if all our time goes to hanging out with other Christians, when will we invest in non-believers? This past year we asked our small groups to invite non-Christians to “Matthew Parties,” gatherings that create opportunity for believers to engage nonbelievers in casual social settings. One of our small group leaders relayed to me the truth he discovered in his group: they didn’t know any non-Christians.
The second – and perhaps more insidious – effect is that too much water drowns out our straining for light. Grass grows from the combination of both water and light. In the church, we overplay the need for people to be at church or in church or around church. Let’s call that water. But we pay almost no attention to create space for the other elements that help us grow – spiritual disciplines, accountability, etc…. Let’s call that light. Many churches I know water exclusively (worship, preaching and teaching) and provide no light.
I may be off here, but it might be that some of us aren’t growing because we’ve got too much of one thing.
What do you think? What’s your experience been? Have you or people you know gotten too much water and not enough light? Is this post just too esoteric?