In her book, Real Good Church, Molly Phinney Baskette offers a top ten list of reasons you should be going to church. My favorite is number 2: “Taking a break from our hectic lives to come to church is accepting the gift of Sabbath. Wayne Mueller says, ‘[Sabbath] dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished.’ We don’t take Sabbath and come to worship because we have time and have finished up everything that needs to be done. We take Sabbath because it is time to stop, and we are designed to stop, rest and reflect. Those who don’t are destined to crash and burn.”
One of worship’s great gifts is its power to draw us back into our right minds and better selves. In fact, our worship is patterned to do just that. At its core it is the practice of receiving God anew and giving ourselves to God anew. Engaging in this practice has a way of reframing the view we have of ourselves and our circumstances. It gives us a more God-centered perspective from which to feel and act.
I’m reading Baskette’s book because it’s been recommended to me and because we’ve been discussing church goals and “What’s next?” at committee meetings and Church Council. Baskette took a dying church of 35 members and lead its turnaround so that now it is a thriving congregation with a unique character and a clear identity. Though our church circumstances are quite different, Baskette has many ideas to share that are relevant to any church that is interested in discerning vital ministry. To be honest, there are times when the goal setting conversation feels a bit overwhelming to me. I feel like I’m supposed to know exactly what we should do and when we should do it, like I need to be the guy with all the answers and a shortcut to that picture of success, which in all reality looks different to different people.
That’s why Baskette’s number 2 reason remains so true and important to me. I need that God-centered perspective from which to feel and act. We all need that God perspective. I woke up this morning thinking about the goal setting process and found myself being reminded to make sure that prayer is a big part of it. As we discern a vision for our church, putting ourselves in the right frame of mind is the first and most important step. Not only will it likely yield more fruitful thinking, it will tie us to the joy of the process. We’ll be reminded that the best kind of church is the kind that belongs to God. We’ll be reminded that the best kind of church work is the kind of work that the Holy Spirit does through us. We’ll be reminded that the best kind of life is a life lived with God.
I know that God has beautiful visions for our church. Let’s embrace the joy of tying ourselves to those visions!
Why not read the book too? I would love to hear your thoughts!