The Church Is Not A Hotel

Back in December, Laura and I got away for an incredible weekend to rest, celebrate, and talk about everything God was doing in our lives. While we were away, we realized it was only the second time we had stayed in a hotel together since March of 2020. Note: the hotel pictured above is NOT where we stayed but I wouldn’t be opposed! Additional Note: the kids were with us the other time we stayed in a hotel, so that didn’t really count!

Anyway, my point is that staying in a hotel has changed a bit thanks to Covid and the labor market. Biggest change? Housekeeping only cleans the room when you check out or upon request (at least where we were). In the grand scheme of things, that is completely NOT a big deal. But it does mean that they don’t show up and make your bed for you, which hits a little closer to home. In our marriage, I’m the one who makes the bed, mainly because I can be a little neurotic and it’s just better for everyone that way. So, one of the things I love most about hotels is having someone else make my bed for me and I was a little annoyed that I was going to have to do it myself. By the way, if you, like Laura, are tempted to point out that I didn’t have to make the bed, you have failed to appreciate just how neurotic I can be.

So, I made my own bed. In a hotel. And I thought, “Maybe I won’t come back until they’re ready to start making beds again.”

Some days I wonder how many of us think the same way about the church – maybe I won’t come back until they’re ready to…

But here’s the thing, the church isn’t a hotel. We’re a community, a family, a body. We don’t hire people to make our beds, we make our own beds. And I wouldn’t want it any other way because that’s how we grow and change. Jesus didn’t come to Earth to be our spiritual concierge. He came to announce the good news of the Kingdom of God, to offer His life as our ransom, and to invite us to be active participants in His work in the world.

If we’re sitting around waiting for someone else to make our bed, we’re missing the point. Jesus invites us to see ourselves, the church, and the world differently. Where can we serve others? What do we contribute to the body? How are we wired to participate in God’s redeeming and restoring work in the world?

As Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 CSB)

Photo by Yuliya Pankevich on Unsplash

Thrilled To Serve

Serve With Us

Yesterday we gave everyone at our gathering the chance to get involved in serving through Restoration City.  There’s so many different ways to get involved – everything from RCCKids to parking to mentoring students through Casa Chirilagua.  And I really want you involved with us.

Serving in the church isn’t about what we should do.  It’s about what we get to do.  It’s not a long list of things that have to get done.  It’s an invitation to bring your God-given gifts, talents, interest and personality to a team of people pursuing the greatest mission in the world.  I’m not at all shy about asking you to do something that is going to be so phenomenally rewarding.  I don’t ever want to guilt you into serving.  But I’ll inspire you into it all day long.  Here’s my top three arguments for why you owe it to yourself to be serving:

Your Passion

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)  God has designed you to accomplish things in this world.  Some of them are through your job, some through your relationships and some are through His church!

You will fully come alive when you start serving in the area God has created you to walk in.  Don’t worry about what the church needs.  Ask what You want to do.  We want you serving wherever you are most excited, passionate and interested.  You’re not trying to satisfy God’s needs.  You’re trying to exercise your gifts.

God’s Mission

Everything we do as a church is rooted in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).  We want to make disciples – to lead people to a saving faith in Jesus and then mobilize them in the work of God.  That’s what this is about.  Parking cars isn’t about crowd control.  It’s about welcoming people who may be so uncertain about visiting a church.  Serving in RCCKids isn’t about keeping the main gathering distraction free.  It’s about discipling the next generation.

There is nothing as thrilling as being used by God to accomplish His purposes in the world.  It’s not the kind of thing you can learn about by reading.  It’s the kind of thing you just need to experience for yourself.

Our Team

I love the team of people who serve at Restoration City.  They’re an amazing group of people who love Jesus and love each other.  We work hard but there’s no other group of people I would rather be in the trenches with on a daily basis.  If you’re looking to deepen relationships, get connected and have fun, this is the team for you!

The good news is you haven’t totally missed the opportunity.  Just go to rcc.church/serve to get connected with one of our teams.

Perfectionism Is Paralyzing

busylife

So many times I find myself longing for the day when I’ll be totally free to focus all of my life on Jesus.  I want to live for Him, to seek His Kingdom, to champion His name, to love others and to serve freely.  I want to build relationships with the lost, make disciples and live with a wholehearted focus on the glory of God.

If only I didn’t have so many problems.

I don’t know about you, but my greatest enemy in living this kind of life is myself.  I don’t pray as often as I should.  I get worried about money, housing and when we’re going to need to replace the van.  Church and family keep me pretty busy and I usually don’t have a lot of energy left by the end of the day.  My heart can be such a traitor and my flesh can be so weak.

In other words, all I need is a perfect life before I start to serve Jesus and live the way I really want to.

Which explains why it’s so easy for every one of us to miss the joy of partnering with God to bring redemption and restoration to our world.  News flash: we will never have a perfect life this side of heaven.  In fact, Jesus promises the opposite, “In this world you will have trouble.” (Jn.16:33)  The journey of life takes us through many trials, much suffering and frequent difficulty.

Here’s what I’m learning.  The difficulties of life are meant to be a catalyst to serve, not an excuse to avoid serving.  Our problems remind us that the world is broken and we await the perfection of heaven.(Romans 8:23)  Jesus uses our weaknesses to display His strength.(2 Cor. 12:9)  We think we need to take care of ourselves first and then focus on the Kingdom of God.  Jesus tells us to seek the Kingdom first and trust Him to take care of us.(Matthew 6:33)

The gospel reminds us that God has never needed our strength.  Jesus died for us when we were spiritually dead enemies of God. (Romans 5:8)  We didn’t need to clean ourselves up to be loved by Him.  He loved us first and that truth transforms us.(1 John 4:19)  We are saved by grace and we serve by grace.

The smartest thing you and I can do today is leverage all of our lives for the glory of Christ.  Take a step towards obedience in the chaos, mess and uncertainty of today.  Don’t wait for perfection.  Trust Jesus to use the mess.

Serving: Blessing Or Burden

Every leader needs to decide whether we see serving as a blessing or a burden.  Yes, our joy in ministry is at stake.  But there’s something even more significant on the line – our ability to perform the fundamental task of leadership.  To put it simply, we will never be good leaders until we start seeing serving as a blessing, not a burden.

The fundamental task of leadership is asking others to work with us to accomplish a goal.  We pick a direction, formulate a plan and inspire others to join us.  It doesn’t matter how great our vision and plan is, if people aren’t following us, we aren’t leading.

Most leaders in the church struggle with asking others to join our teams.  We don’t want to be overbearing, we don’t want to inconvenience people, we don’t want to bother people and we’re afraid they’re just going to say no anyway.  So, we suck it up and get the job done ourselves, silently resenting the idle hands sitting right next to us.

We don’t ask because we see serving as a burden.

But the Scriptures tell us the exact opposite.  Consider Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  God has already prepared good works for every single follower of Jesus.  In other words, we are designed to serve.  It’s how we come alive as disciples of Jesus.  So, leaders, when we ask someone to serve on our teams, we’re blessing them.  We’re inviting them to be fully alive.

Do we really believe that? Or am I trying to spin burden into blessing?  Our leadership credibility depends on how we answer that question.

Most Christians never experience the joy Paul writes about in Colossians 1:29, “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”  Want to know what it feels like to have the power of God working mightily through you?  Then serve!  You’re never going to experience it on the sidelines of the church – it’s only available to those who are in the game.

Leaders, it’s our job to get people in the game.  When we ask someone to join our team, we’re blessing them with the opportunity to experience the power of God.  We dare not condemn people to joyless mediocrity because we won’t ask them to serve.

I genuinely want every single person at Restoration City to be serving in a meaningful capacity.  I don’t care if it’s through RCC Kids, Production, Connect, leading a Community Group, doing graphic design or serving outside of the church through one of our ministry partners.  All I care is that you get in the game.  It really is a blessing.

Leaders, we have the privilege of making this happen.  Ask people to serve.  Do it boldly, confidently and with joy.  We aren’t burdening, we’re blessing.

Kids and Community Groups

Community Groups are a really big deal at Restoration City.  They are the way we connect people to our church and start our discipleship process.  They aren’t a program we offer; they are an expression of who we are.

So, we want every single person who calls RCC home to be connected with one of our Community Groups.  That includes parents of small children.  In some ways, these young parents are the people in our church most in need of a night with other adults and conversation about what God is doing in their lives.  But many parents don’t see a Community Group as a viable option because of childcare expenses.  Finding a babysitter is hard enough.  Paying one is even harder.

As a church, we want to help parents attend a Community Group without paying for childcare.  In order to do that, we need a team of volunteers who would be willing to babysit as a way of serving young parents.  If we get enough volunteers, they idea is for you to serve every 2-3 weeks with the same CG or family.  As a parent of a young child, I can tell you that your willingness to serve in this capacity would be a huge gift to our RCC families!

You’ll have a chance to sign up for this opportunity on Sunday and I’m praying many of you will take it!