Are your CHURCH MINISTRIES leading you AWAY from God?
Let me preface this by saying that I love the church. I grew up in the church. I love talking to other Christians, listening to preaching, singing…. I love to volunteer in my church. I love to rub shoulders with other women as we get things done – children’s ministries, after-church luncheons, Christmas breakfast. I feel at home when I am at church.
But lately, I have started wondering if we women are taking our church ministries too far.
I see young mothers who are spiritually and physically exhausted spending week after week serving in the church nursery.
I see mothers of elementary aged children running themselves ragged trying to make casseroles, bake cookies, teach Sunday school classes, lead Awana, prepare the Christmas program, organize the missions conference, and volunteer on Sunday afternoons at the Church Nursing Home Ministry.
I see older women in poor health who feel that they must still be playing the piano, leading the kitchen ministries, decorating for the annual Fourth of July picnic, and arranging the seasonal flower displays for the front of the church.
All of these activities are excellent things, even God-honoring activities.
But, could it be that these same church ministries are leading us AWAY from God?
Do you know the story of Mary and Martha? (If not, you can find it in Luke 10:38-42)
Jesus Christ and His disciples had come to visit Martha and Mary’s home. Martha wanted to make Jesus a delicious meal. What could possibly be more noble than that? And yet, while Martha’s outward actions were a beautiful act of service, Martha’s heart was all wrong.
She had forgotten that Jesus is God. Hadn’t he fed thousands of people at once? He could have spoken the word and instantly had a perfect meal on the table. But, I have a feeling that Jesus would have been grateful and content with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
What He truly wanted was Martha’s heart. And that is why He gently chided Martha and told her that Mary, who was sitting (sitting!) quietly at His feet and listening, had chosen the better part. Mary’s quiet spirit of listening pleased Jesus more than all of Martha’s frantic activity done with a wrong attitude.
I believe that God loves it when we serve Him out of a heart overflowing with love for Him. The problem is that all too often we serve Him in our own strength, out of obligation, or for the sake of our own pride.
We are so busy doing good things that we no longer have time to sit and listen.
So, we have to ask ourselves: Are our church ministries pulling us AWAY from God?
Have you ever baked a lasagna for the church luncheon and hoped the pastor would notice? Do you feel like you need to offer a lot of excuses when you say “No” to a volunteer opportunity? Could it be that you are serving in order to prove your spirituality to other people or even to yourself?
Have you ever found yourself saying, “If I don’t do this, Sally will have to, and she doesn’t have time! I guess I HAVE to say ‘yes’!” Are you serving out of guilt?
Have you ever found yourself thinking, “If I don’t volunteer to bake these cookies, who will? There is NOBODY ELSE WHO CAN bake double chocolate peanut butter cookies like I can!” We must not in pride assume that God is calling us to do EVERYTHING because we are the obvious best choices. God can and will use other people.
We feel good about ourselves because we are so busy serving, sacrificing our time for God. Surely He doesn’t expect us to actually spend time in prayer and Bible study, ON TOP OF ALL OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT WE ARE ALREADY DOING FOR HIM?
Could it be that we are using our church ministry as an excuse to not develop a personal relationship with God through reading His Word and prayer?
Perhaps you showed up to church on Sunday morning with an amazing Sunday School lesson prepared for the fifth graders’ class. But, if you were a totally-stressed-out-jerk to your family on Saturday night and yelled at your kids on Sunday morning, is God pleased with your service? Are you pulling too much time away from your family in order to dedicate it to “church ministry”?
Let’s be honest here. It is much more comfortable to plan the missions conference brunch than to actually speak to our neighbors about their need for salvation. It is easy to become so involved with “church activities” that we have no time to build relationships with our unsaved neighbors.
Living at a frantic pace in a haze of exhaustion is a good way to set ourselves up for burn out and/or a fall into serious sin. Jesus Christ and His disciples were busy. There was a never ending amount of ministry for them to accomplish. And yet, there were several times that Jesus temporarily walked away from ministry activities in order to take His disciples to a secluded place to pray and rest. If times of rest were necessary for Jesus and His disciples, than we should be making time for them as well.
I work with young children in my church, and I know that familiarity is a really big deal for them. They like to see the same people in the nursery every week. However, if we are so busy in children’s ministries that we rarely (if ever) are able to listen to the preaching of the Word of God, something is wrong. We must be sure that we are still growing in our own spiritual lives by listening to preaching.
I know what you are thinking. “If I don’t serve, who will? I serve because I HAVE to!”
Yes, we absolutely do need to serve in our local churches. When God calls us to serve, we need to have hearts that joyfully respond.
But, we don’t have to do the things that God has NOT called us to do. And He will never call us to serve at the expense of our relationship with Him.
God is not relying on my church activities or yours to accomplish His plan.
God is not measuring our spirituality based on how many church activities we are involved in.
God does call us to be seeking Him, to be spending time in prayer, and to be developing a relationship with Him through His Word.
Let’s slow down and choose the better part.
What do you think? Do you struggle with becoming so busy with church activities that your personal relationship with God takes a back seat? Do you agree or disagree with this post? I would love to hear your thoughts! Please scroll down to comment.