This weekend I didn’t preach at Church180. In fact, my family and I weren’t even at church!
I told no one in advance (with the exception of our pastors) that I wouldn’t be there.
When I have done this in the past people ask me, “Why didn’t you tell us you weren’t going to be at church?”
That’s a fair question. Here’s why I don’t tell people when we’re not going to be at church…
I want people to love the church and come for the experience of worshiping God, enjoying friends, and learning new things from the Bible. None of this depends on me. Sure, I’m the primary teacher, but there is so much more to the church than me.
When I first became a pastor our church grew from 30 to 130 and it was largely because of me. Let me explain. People came because they liked me (honestly it was probably Sherri they liked and came to see). They stayed because they liked us.
One day I realized, “Our church has grown because of us, but now it cannot grow because of us!” I had been the catalyst for growth, but now I had become the obstacle to growth. I didn’t know what to do.
Shortly after that we were moved to a larger church. When we first started there the church was running 600+ on a weekend. Immediately my leadership/pastoral style had to change. I led through a team. When we left, two years later, we consistently ran 900+ on the weekends.
One of the key differences between the two experiences was the role I played. In the first church I was in the center of everything. In the second church I was in the center of a small group of leaders. It was in the second church that our church had the greatest impact in the community and in the world… and incidentally, people were better cared for too!
I’ve realized that if the church is all about me then we’ll be pretty ineffective and people won’t be cared for well. If I have to be there for it to be “church” then what we’ve built is a cult… not a church.
I want for Church180 to be filled with strong leaders who can teach, lead worship, lead Life Groups, make decisions, etc. I want our church to function at full capacity when I’m not there.
I know that some people won’t come to church if they know I’m not going to be there (and I’m pretty sure that there are some who would come if they knew I wasn’t going to be there). I don’t like that, and so I don’t tell people when I’m going away for this reason… I want our new teachers/leaders to feel the weight of teaching/leading the entire church, and I want our entire church to support, love, and respect the new teachers/leaders. It is good for the teachers/leaders and the church when I’m not there and everyone shows up!
So there you are… why I don’t tell in advance when I’m going to be gone.