Sometimes it is difficult trying to balance the needs of two separate institutions, like a church and a school. For example, our school needs to be a safe environment for children and when parents drop their kids off they need to know that their precious babies are in good hands. Our church needs to be open to receiving whomever Jesus drags in off the streets. What happens though when Jesus drags them in at the same time parents are dropping off their kids? Conflict.
This morning I asked a homeless couple to meet me down at the office and they were asked to leave before I could get there by some school staff. I don’t blame the school staff, but I sure wish there was some form of balance. It is hard for a church to be the church between the hours of 6 pm and 6 am, Monday-Friday, and as long as there are no special events going on. At the same time, I can imagine how frustrating it is to be on the side of the school and keep having these strangeos and weirdoes showing up all the time saying, “I know Pastor George.” There must be balance in there somewhere.
The same thing happens on Sunday morning. I don’t think we have done anything intentionally to reach the people who come on Sunday. Jesus just drags them in off the streets. We offer the school families the same thing we offer those present on Sunday mornings, Jesus. Not very many school families hang around though. As Bishop Will Willimon says, perhaps they like Jesus, but they just don’t like his friends.
This Saturday we are starting a Saturday night service intentionally designed to attract school families. So, Saturday Night Life will be an attractional event with a missional purpose. At first I loved the idea. Then I began to resent the idea. Those who were getting excited about it were the same people who refused to be excited about what God was doing on Sunday mornings. As I have reflected more I realize the issue was me and not them. Who am I to say who Jesus loves and how Jesus wants to draw all people to himself?
I’m excited about Saturday Night Life for several reasons:
- with new crowds come new opportunities for salvation
- those who were not excited are now excited and willing to participate (that’s gotta be a sign of the Holy Spirit, right?)
- it has the potential to be a kingdom focused event around which the varied (divided?) school staff and families can unite
- it frees Sunday morning to be whatever Jesus wants Sunday morning to be
- I have two talented pastors that get to do this pastoral ministry thing to a greater degree
- it is something we cannot do on our own, which means we need Jesus – life, death and resurrection – to help us
So, as I go to bed tonight I think I will sleep just a little bit better knowing that Jesus loves the poor, the rich, the young, the old, those for the school and those for the church, and yes, Jesus loves even me.