I went to a program at a wealthy, suburban mega-church tonight. It took me back to my younger days in youth ministry back in SoCal. Beautiful, over-the-top, multi-functional facilities. State of the art sound, lighting and video. Incredible, in-house graphics all over the building. Expansive parking and a perfectly manicured landscape.
And don’t forget the hip coffee bar in the lobby. Yikes.
Even though the past 25 years have taken me…ministry, theology, Kingdom priorities, all of it…in a completely different direction, there is still a little residue of jealousy in my soul. There. I said it.
The truth is, there are certain kinds of churches and certain kinds of pastors that have stuff that’s pretty easy to envy: CEO-level salaries, expense accounts, health insurance, big staffs, open checkbook conference expenses (including travel) and healthy program budgets. Add to that, top-of-the-line technology and ministry related equipment, expanding facilities, and all the other incredible tools that can make ministry easier, more effective, and wildly influential.
Not to mention the professional credibility and notoriety that comes from our culture’s infatuation with bigger and better…and the opportunities that come to those who lead these churches of influence and example.
*moment of transparency*
There is something about all of that can still appeal to my base nature, when I forget who I am and what God has led me to be. Ego can be such a slimy bedfellow, sometimes.
But I would never go back there. My life and heart have been captured by a completely different way of living out my commitment to Christ and his Kingdom. I get up each day with different priorities than my fraternity on the other side of the table.
This week, our church family is facing the very real possibility of having to pay for the repair of a plumbing problem in our not-so-state-of-the-art facility that will completely deplete our savings account…the one that we’ve worked diligently to replenish after the recession his us hard back in 2008. (Those were the days we pretty much existed on whatever came in the offering plate the previous Sunday. Fun times, they were…).
But we will be deeper because of the experience. And better equipped to connect with a whole part of our culture that is neither financially independent nor comfortable in the presence of those who are.
Yeah. It would be nice to have financial options. It would be great to simply write checks and not have to be concerned about what significant areas of ministry are going to have to be cut. It would be awesome to have the freedom that comes with financial flexibility.
But that is not who we are.
And YOU should be jealous of me.