I have not led anyone to the Lord this past year or discipled anyone.
Some would say I have because as a pastor many have come to know Jesus under my teaching and many have been discipled within the larger church construct or through my facilitating in life groups or casual conversations. But I'm not talking about evangelism or discipleship in those generic and general terms.
That's like saying you pray every day, but prayer to you is just being conscious of God throughout the day or letting your life be "lived as a prayer" to God. Again, you can dance around that mulberry bush if you want, but I'm not speaking toward discipleship of this ilk. These modern modifications of biblical disciplines are jukes, shortcuts, and often, for me, lazy loopholes.
The truth of the matter is that I have been very busy with church, but I have not been the church in my community. If I brush shoulders with people, most often they are catching me "on my way to or from" church, a church-oriented activity, or a preoccupied mind focused on something churchy that I need to get done. When I'm at the coffee shop, I'm getting things ready for a sermon or putting together the agenda for a Ministry Team meeting or volleying emails back and forth regarding who is supposed to be where doing what and when.
The result of this kind of Christianity isn't deadly, but it is deadening. Is say it isn't deadly, because it's not really hurting anyone intentionally or damaging anyone with demonstrations of militant fundamentalism. It just goes without notice. Nothing remarkable, because no one remarks on something that "doesn't matter" or "make a difference". You have to be different to make a difference.
When you just blend into the scenery and adopt a "Christian subculture-oriented" life, you don't hurt anyone because you don't exist in the people's minds you're trying to reach. When I'm busy with getting God-stuff done for church, people are peripheral fixtures, background noise. My mind is concentrated on a tick-list and if there is a momentary interaction with a civilian, I find my mind trying to figure out how to get through the conversation and back to the task, the destination. Yuck, it just sounds sick saying it out loud.
I don't want to wallow in the quagmire of my failure this past year, I just want to acknowledge that church has distracted me from people and that is tragic. It is a travesty when church activities and church services cause a pastor to lose his heart for what drew him to ministry in the first place, people.
And not just people, but broken and lost people. It's easier to just accumulate "found" people who are "together" and to hang out with the already convinced, preaching to the choir so to speak. We are all prone to this default. Lost/broken vs. Found/together. Where do you feel that you would naturally gravitate if you didn't constantly take on the "heart of Christ"? The flesh always moves toward convenience and expedience. Easy and Fast. But this is not the purpose for which Jesus came.
He came "to seek and to save those who were lost".
I want to seek people. (I know God does that...but you get my point.)
I want to save people. (I know God does that...but you get my point.)
I want to see people come to know Christ, and I want to see people baptized, and I want to see people discipled. I want to see people flooding the church building who a desperate, dying inside and dead as a doornail in their soul. I want to welcome them warmly. I want to invite people to know Jesus more and I want to be inviting as a Christ-follower out on the streets where it matters most. Not behind the pulpit. Not on church turf. I want to be a part of the "street team" this year.
I want to be bolder about my faith. I want to lead people to Christ this year. One. Two. Droves, if the Lord wills. I want to meet with people to disciple them. I want to meet with groups of men to disciple them. I want to see hundreds saved this year. Lives salvaged from the brink of disaster. Lives snatched from the fire. Lives noticed and touched and invited and engaged. But you've got to notice them first. And in order to notice them, you have to make room to notice people.
And the first step to noticing people is noticing that you've stopped noticing.
This is a note about noticing.
Note to self: Notice.