Thursday, June 12, 2008

What Catholics Don't Have: CrazyBusy Services

Even if you took the most progressive Catholic parish and measured it next to a popular mega-church (like Willow Creek Community or a gigantic Vineyard), you'd still find the Catholic parish less chaotic.

At my last non-Catholic church, we had a Friday night service, a Saturday night service, two Sunday morning services and sometimes a Sunday evening service. Children's ministry was at all the services. (Hence the usual begging from one harried teacher or another before the service. We'd even have a special "Children's Service" once a month to make sure everyone really understood how awesome it was to work in children's ministry.)

I've pondered the whole Children's Ministry question for years. (For instance, why is it so hard to get people to commit to this ministry?) Even though I was estranged from the Catholic church back then, I'd still often comment, "You know, Catholics might have it right. They keep their kids with them during the church service."

Oh, yeah. I was really popular with those sort of comments.

Here's a rundown of the various ministries available on a weekend at most churches:

Parking Lot Attendants Ministry
Greeters Ministry
Coffee Ministry (Yes. It's one of the offices of the Holy Spirit, don't you know...)
Ushers Ministry
Book Store Ministry
Children's Ministry
Communion Ministry (although this is getting harder to find at some churches)
Worship Team
Prayer Team
Soundboard Ministry
Overhead Ministry (for those still stuck in the dark ages of "The Overhead" instead of having a Jumbotron flat-screen hanging from the ceiling)
and...The Set-Up and Tear-Down Crew Ministry (for those using the cafeteria of some school or city building)

Ah, yes. I've been involved in almost all of them. I can remember one church holding a special "Find Your Ministry" day that included a bunch of tables with people begging asking for volunteers. Often, whole sermons were devoted to how important it was to "serve" and "exercise your gifts."

Now the above "ministries" all had to do with celebrating a church service. So true ministries such as evangelism weren't included. After all, it was also our job to haul as many unsuspecting friends to church with us, so really that didn't count. What was really important, was getting warm bodies to do the work of having a huge, mega-church Sunday service.

I heard early on that only 20% of church members do about 80% of the work that needs to be done. Very frequently, I'd ask myself about the Biblical basis for having all this "stuff" go on during a Sunday church service.

While visiting a church a few years ago, I almost howled when the pastor shared a comment from a new believer.

"Pastor," he said. "You know I'm busier now than when I wasn't a Christian!" The Pastor quickly shushed him and told him not to let that get out. (So of course he uses it to make a point in his sermon...) The pastor's sermon was on a book called Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.

Pastor, meet mirror.

Catholicism has a very clear delineation between the priesthood and the laity. There are some things the laity will never be allowed to do, nor should they. Some Catholic parishes like the laity to do some stuff.

But what I love about my Sundays is that they no longer feel like I'm running the 50-meter sprint. In my humble opinion, we Christians already live in a very hectic world. Why make Sunday crazybusy, too?

1 comment:

JoannaB said...

The list of ministries made me laugh, as I can identify that having come out of an evangelical church too into a Catholic Church (coming home I call it because I did briefly go to a Catholic school and church in my junior school years). And though my husband and I serve in different areas - the pace is much slower and there is definitely no 'parking' ministry!