I had a glorious revelation at Target this Wednesday.
Youth group hadn’t started back up from our Christmas break, and I actually managed to have an evening to myself. The only catch was that I couldn’t stay at home.
I’ve been in this predicament a few times before, and it’s actually a challenge to find the right place to hang out and work on stuff.
We have a great coffee shop in town with wireless and a cool vibe, but they’re only open until 6pm. I could stay in the office at work at my desk or on my couch, but something just feels wrong about working in my office at night. Our Starbucks (in our Target) is open until 9pm and works pretty well for hanging out, but it’s hard to get work done without the internet.
And this week I discovered they have wireless.
A whole new world of opportunity has been opened up to me! I’ve finally found a place that makes me feel like a hipster while working on stuff with my MacBook Pro that actually stays open past 6pm.
But then I noticed something. I wasn’t really getting much work done. After spending 90 minutes there, I had written two emails and 200 words of a blog post.
This was because during those same 90 minutes, I saw six high school kids from our church and got some of them to help lead our youth group in the coming weeks, one college student, six other members of our church, and spoke with two people who aren’t part of our church. One woman asked me if I was a college student (I’m still waiting for the time when that will be flattering), and spoke with me about church for twenty minutes when she found out I was a pastor.
It was a totally fun twist on my evening, and I was able to connect with people that I certainly would not have otherwise. It made me think about the type of work that pastors do and the expectations we have on them.
To be honest, there are some weeks where it doesn’t feel like my ministry causes me to live out my faith very much at all. There are some days where the only difference between my life as a pastor and the way somebody who doesn’t know Jesus lives is the 15 minutes I spend reading my Bible before bed. Other than that, it’s no different.
I hurry out the door for a bunch of planning meetings where I organize events, I write some emails, I complain to a coworker, I work on a long-term project, come home to complain about my day during dinner, watch some TV, and go to bed.
During those days, I wonder where the ministry is in my ministry. I didn’t actually minister to anybody. I didn’t have any conversations with anybody about growing in their faith, I didn’t encourage anybody during a difficult time, and I didn’t tell anybody new about Jesus.
But I worked ten hours and went to sleep, exhausted.
Now I know that Colossians 3:23 tells us to do everything as if we were doing it for God. I get that. But I think that in the church, we can sometimes forget why the church exists. If I spend the vast majority of my time with the same small group of people and then spend my free time with even fewer people, I’m missing the main point of following Jesus:
Helping more people learn to follow Him.
So what does this have to do with Target? I can’t effectively tell people about Jesus unless I get to know them. I can’t get to know them unless I spend time with them. This means I need to get off of my living room couch and hang out with people.
I’m ashamed to admit that I met one of my neighbors for the first time just a few months ago. There was a tragic death in their family, and Sara and I brought over a dinner for them. We had lived in our house for over three years, and it took a death for us to introduce ourselves.
Sometimes people get concerned when the pastoral staff is spending too much time outside of the office. To this concern, I ask, “Where else does Jesus’ great commission to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ get carried out so fully?”
What do you think? Where have you seen God move through you to help others meet Jesus? Where is God leading you to reach out to the community in an intentional way? What might be holding you back?