Imagine there is a missionary who works for 30+ years. At the end of his ministry he has a team of people around him helping him. Everything from clerical to financial to ministry was taken care of – all led by competent, professional servants of God. Compare that to another missionary, who at the end of his 30+ years has only one person left on his team; only one person who has remained with him until the end. How would you compare the two?
I’m all for providing clean water and food for the needy. Really, I am. Our team in the Philippines operates daily feeding centers and other humanitarian efforts. But that’s not our mission. Our mission is much more important than that.
“The man who has no inner life is the slave of his surroundings.”
Imagine it’s the year 1999 (for some of you, that’s hard to do, I know). But just imagine. There is no social media, we only use the internet for a few things here and there, but we do have a wonder of modern technology: the cell phone. You love your cell phone. This wonder of modern technology keeps you connected to friends and family. No more pay phones for you. No matter where you are, all they need to do is call.
Now imagine that your friends and family – ALL of your friends and family – began to call and text you with updates every 15-30 minutes. Not important updates. Not things that were valuable or really useful to you. Updates like what they had for breakfast; what their 4-year old is wearing to school; that they just got their electric bill in the mail; things like that.
How long would it take you to ask them to stop calling and texting you with this random, useless information? Probably about a day. It would be annoying, distracting, tiring, and ultimately pointless.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where this is now the reality. It’s called facebook.
Life is not getting any slower. If you are reading this, you probably feel stressed, overloaded, and tired more often than not. You probably know that you need to take more time off, more time for your family, more time for yourself. The problem is, you don’t know where to find that time. In our current world, discretionary time seems to have disappeared. But what we are missing is not time. What we are missing is margin.
Dealing with culture is messy. A church can take many different stances when dealing with specific cultural issues. How do we discuss the latest book or movie trends? Which culture pieces can be redeemed and which must be rejected? But the day to day decisions that a church makes concerning culture and how to deal with it boils down to one question: is our church a thermometer or a thermostat?