Rooted In Anxiety
This morning I was listening to Mark Yaconneli speak at the National Youth Workers Convention last year. He was talking about wonder and the need to grasp the wonder that is in God. He mentioned that far too often our churches response to changing times is rooted in anxiety. That the dwindling amount of young families causes a clear issue and the response is to hire a Family Pastor. Our response to issues is not determined by a clear cut discerning process but a reaction that is heightened by our anxiety level.
Our anxiety can be risen for a number of reasons, and some of them are based upon institutional needs rather than fulfilling the Great Commission. As churches continue to decline and membership age grows their is a natural tendency to want to attract others to our church. While at times the motives may be honorable, other times they may not be. For instance a church may see young adults not in church and want to see them more active. Is this because we honestly miss them and are willing to make the changes necessary to fit their needs? Or are we simply looking to ensure the survival of our current church institution through “giving units” and other numbers? The problem is that people can easily sense the motives for you wanting to be around them. If your motives are more about the institutional church and less about the person than we are acting contrary to what we as a Church and what God calls us to be.
When we respond to the needs around us not connected to our anxiety it comes from a place of honest caring for that family or individual. That genuine caring is what creates relationships and the potential beginning of a faith journey. Our communities need to develop out of genuine relationships with a person, rather than seeing that person for our own needs. Our calling as a church is to be out into the community and welcoming those imperfect people to where other imperfect people reside, the church of God.
My own anxiety gets the best of me at times and it causes me to take actions that are filled with fear and potential failure rather than one that is gracious and Spirit-filled. I pray that as we move forward as communities of faith that we not live out of our own institutional anxiety.