Where do we find the time?
When I led a church in England I used to put people under pressure to give more time. Primarily because this was how I had been mentored, you gave yourself to the church.....
When I got married in 1992, I was the children's worker in the church and was asked to also help develop a youth programme. I remember the leaders sitting down with Tracy and myself and drawing out a schedule for us. Monday night was clear, Tuesday night I did a kids club, Wednesday night we had a home group, every other Thursday night we had a training evening, Friday night a pre teens youth club, Saturday night we did stuff with the older youth, Once a month on a Sunday we had to an evening youth church as well as every Sunday morning the normal Sunday service. Alongside all these clubs we had to go to the various organizing meetings for these clubs! My wife worked as an accountant and I was at college. The interesting thing about this is that we agreed to it and have since looked back with a little regret that we were so busy during the early years of our marriage, years we will never live again! Obviously we also both had family and friends that we had to fit into this schedule and that was extremely difficult.
As time went on and children came along our lives became less busy, but not totally. We were always under time pressure. I once heard a programme on radio 4 (You can tell that I am getting old, I think Radio 4 is a great station) and the guy said "We live in a cash rich and time poor society" obviously in todays financial climate we don't feel so cash rich but I do feel it is true.
Most christians have jobs, families and friends that they have to juggle alongside the demands of church life, we end up with a sense of guilt or uneasiness that we are letting people down in one or more of these areas, because we are just to busy. Most of the church leaders I know don't have loads of time for their already existing friends yet alone time to make new ones.... I have seen one or two good examples of leaders making time for others, whether that be buying a season ticket for a football club or joining a gym, or even giving a day a week to some other form of employment but it's the exception not the rule.
So where does that leave us? How do we build effective life giving and life supporting communities that don't drain people of time.
The first thing is "If we always do what we have always done, we will always have what we always had", something needs to change.
I'm not sure I have the answers, but I do think that programme driven churches will have to change. We have to make church simpler.
Are smaller communities less time intensive?
Do the churches that teach on the need to reach the lost really giving their members time to do so?
Where does church come in our list of priorities, Family, Friends, Employment, Church?
With the above question is church a meeting to be attended or a life to be lived?
Aren't we being church wherever we are, what ever we are doing?
If church is a life to be lived rather than a programme to be attended, what can we put in place to facilitate this?
What could we do without?
I would be really interested in suggestions????