“Thank you, Miggy!”
Last week I started a series on the De-churched based on a book called “The Great De-churching”. We talked about how 40 million people in the US have stoped going to church in the last 25 years and the largest group who left has been ‘Cultural Christians’(52%). The book suggests that an invitation to a dinner table, rather than a church service, might bring them back into relationship with God and others.
This week I want to expand on this idea that having a connection with someone can be transformative. Have you ever known someone so passionate for something that it makes you want to know more about that subject?
Living in Detroit has had this effect on me. I had never visited Detroit before receiving an invitation from the Trustees to come here. This might not be news to you, but Detroit has a ‘bad rep’. When talking to people about coming here, nobody sounded very enthusiastic. There was even a person I had never met before, who said “I’m so sorry” when I said I was moving here. It made me laugh! When Christiane and I first visited, it wasn’t the city that first got our attention, but the people. We could see ourselves developing long life relationships with this community who had already been in the city and with each other for so long. We wanted to know more about your passion for this church and desire to honor its legacy. Now, after living here for a few months, we have a growing interest on things we never gave much thought before.
For instance, I find myself reading about such things as the history of the automobile industry and Motown, art deco architecture, and Tigers baseball. I ask questions like , “Why is the whole city saying ‘Thank you, Miggy?’” (Seriously, the flashing construction sign on I-75, that was suppose to tell me where to drive, was thanking Miggy this week!). I have a growing interest in model trains (Thanks, Dan and Gale!), and I’ve dusted off my golf clubs for the first time in 10 years (Thanks, Andrew and Don!)
When we are in a healthy relationship with someone we start to love what they love, we take interest in their interests, and spend time doing these things. For instance, when I met Christiane I saw such a deep love and commitment to God in her that I wanted to be with her all the time. I told her after our first date: “your love for Jesus is contagious”. It made me want to spend the rest of my life with her.
If there is one thing that I have as a goal as your Pastor, it’s to show you the Love God has for you in such a way that you fall more deeply in love with Him – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As our love for God grows, our love for neighbors will grow too. We become more open to people, and start to see more of God’s image in them. That’s why the concept of developing true relationships can be the answer to bringing people back to worship God together in a church.
We can show the love of Jesus to others best when we are part of their lives. This happens naturally, but it also takes intentionality. More than anything else in today’s world, I think friends, neighbors, and churches would do well to spend more time lingering over a good meal. It could be the beginning of being intentional about being present in each other’s lives.
We may not always fall in love with people’s diverse interests and passions, but we can still make the choice of genuinely loving on them and being present in their lives when they want or need us.
As we look to grow as a church, let’s define success as growing relationships with God and others. When we focus primarily on success as growing a church numerically, financially, or in prestige, we miss what God knows to be best for us.
We will do well in paying close attention to Jesus, and learning from Him. In displaying Jesus in us, we may find our love for Him to be contagious to others!
Blessings and peace,
“Thank you, Miggy!”