I was kind of blown away this morning when well over 550 people showed up for church in the worst snow storm we’ve seen in about 30 years on a Sunday. I had kind of expected about 8 given the weather.

I was so thrilled when I rolled into the campus parking lot at 6 a.m. and saw it lined with the cars of our e-team members who got up extra early to make it in and set up campus. On both campuses, volunteers and staff worked together to set up environments, and the 8:30 service rolled on as the snow intensified. Ironically, it was our best and smoothest set up yet.

I loved it because I’ve pastored long enough to get my back up about Christians and commitment. Too often, I’ve seen Christians be the first to cancel anything church-like the moment there’s an excuse.  Great weather in the summer, snow in the winter, rain in the fall, or just about any other inticement all keep Christians away from participating in services or church events. You often find them at the rink or the beach an hour after missing the service or event they "just couldn’t get to".  Any pastor knows that.  Do we really serve ourselves in this culture, or do we serve Jesus?

I think I used to be more jazzed about commitment to the "church". These days, the "organization" is secondary to the cause. I am growing more and more passionate about Jesus and what He wants to do with the people we live near.  That’s worth dying for.  (Actually, He did die for that, didn’t He?) What thrilled me today was not just the commitment to the work of Connexus (and trust me, I love Connexus), but their incredible devotion to the cause of Christ.

Frankly, I’m pretty much done with self-absorbed, pampered Christianity.  For the last few decades, we’ve operated churches like we were day spas for Christians — come in, be catered to, hope it spiritually fixes you for a few hours, then back out pretty much unchanged till your next visit.   Too many Christians see the church as being for them, not for Jesus and others.  We run it as a private club that will take any member — as long as we pre-approve the members and they don’t ask us to change anything.  We think salvation will come to us if we save our lives, not if we give them away.  Too many Christians are afraid of the radical kind of commitment and reorientation that Jesus preached or talked about.

Think about it…we quote the thing about Jesus carrying our burdens and giving us rest, or that terribly misquoted passage from Jeremiah about God having plans for "us", but we seldom quote Jesus’ crazy stuff about counting the cost, not having a place to lay his head or needing to prioritize Him even above family.  The devotion Jesus is calling us to is a radical reorientation to life with God at the centre.

And frankly, I don’t think our society is going to be won over by Christians who are in Christianity to see what they can personally get out of it.  Once you’re a follower of Jesus, it stops being about you.  It starts being about Jesus and others. What may influence the world is a radical level of devotion to our God, a sacrificial, others-oriented giving, a totally revamped life that is about serving, not being served.

I think I saw a layer of that today.  I’m thinking about what might happen if those 550 people were unleashed on a world that desperately longs for Jesus…but won’t know what they need till we love them into relationship with our Saviour. Wait…maybe that’s what’s actually beginning to happen.

You up for real followership?  How radically will you realign your life with Jesus in order to make your life no longer about you, but about Jesus and others?

I’d like to chew on that for the week….I certainly haven’t got it figured out.  But I can promise you it intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper and deeper into it all.

7 Comments

  1. Rob on December 17, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    Hey thanks Carey because when I get the Chance to work side by side with probably the most committed bunch of people who smile laugh joke and generally have a great time doing whatever it takes to get the Job done it brings me into true fellowship with the Body of Christ. The people who come every week putting up tearing down teaching, serving, communicating, praying, Loving and leading through their commitment to the Church not Connexus but the real Church the Body of Christ it overwhelms me. We have so many people dedicated to the work behind the scenes and they smile! they work and there is a joy to be there side by side with these people to see the youth there at 5:30 let alone helping and doing so much and still having such a blast . I come home Sundays refreshed and renewed to see the people getting the truth about what it means to be called a servant of Christ's I want to take the opportunity to thank all the leadership staff for being there right along side all these people and giving their all to get the message of Christ out thanks.

  2. Graham on December 17, 2007 at 11:23 am

    totally resonate with you today! thanks for putting in words.

    If knowing Christ does not change the way we live, what good is our faith?

  3. Norm on December 17, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Carey…your blog today reminded me of what has plagued me forever….In the devil's dictionary, it defines a christian as one who believs in the teachings of Jesus as long as it does NOT interfer with his lifestyle

  4. rob ward on December 16, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Carey: We prayed for you and all those who were travelling today to both of your campuses. It started out as not too bad a day, whether it was 4:47 am when you posted to the blog or at 6:30 when I started to get ready to go to Trinity. Like you, we had an awesome service with so many who didn't heed the warnings to stay off the roads. Like Connexus, God drew people to Trinity. After worship we had someone from the worship team at Connexus drop in looking for his capo that he left the last Sunday in October. He seemed amazed that we were still there. He was even more amazed that I knew what he was looking for and that I knew where it was. I told him that what is really amazing is that our God took 3 small churches and brought them into being one for a time…and then he made them 3 again in a way the originals could never imagine. His Kingdom has grown and more people are being reached for the Kingdom. I praise Him for that. Be blessed and know that we serve the same risen Lord, just in different ways. We too had people there today that were new to worship. Praise Him for your 550 and for all of those who drove to Oro to be at Trinity…I am seeking His Kingdom and going out, spreading His seed everywhere, just as all those in Connexus who get up so early each week to set up do.
    Be blessed in all you do.
    Rob

  5. Carey Nieuwhof on December 16, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    I think you zeroed in on the bullseye Heather….Your friend Scott summarized the song of too many of us. "Not sure it helps". Heard that too many times, almost always from people who don't give. And not wanting to be "hurt" — Jesus taught the opposite.

    Well put.

    Brian…if we lined up for Jesus the way we lined up for Tim Horton's…..

  6. Heather Savage on December 16, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Our service was open this morning too…and it was a pretty cool service because since maybe 30 came we had chances to stand up and share what God had been doing in our lives this week!

    Last year I lived and served at a mission in Baja Mexico which serves through 150 staff a town of 20,000 people. I became very attached to many people there and so I took my Mother and my sister down there last week for a visit and to help out. THAT place is a picture of authenticity and honesty. It is incredible the attitude of praise and pray and joy there…a beautiful community of Christ's compassion. I was talking to a man in church today telling him about how the mission functions, who they help that sort of thing…He wasn't sure if missions actually help the poor. I told him it depends on what scale you consider "help" being…if you mean we are never able to make those Mexican towns look like our town of Perth (ON)then you are right, the only way we could do that would be f everyone from Perth and more gave at least half of their belongings and income down there. Otherwise what we can do is hand out tarps so they can have rooms, and offer child care for there children so they can work, and provide a place for special needs children to learn (instead of being locked up in rooms while their single mothers head for work) and provide homes for orphans, and medicine for people dying, and rehab centers for addicts, and shelters for abused women. And he said "I don't think its right to hurt ourselves to help other people." I thought about it quietly and said, but if you knew them, Scott, if you became friends with these people, if you hugged them and kissed them and listened to their stories you could do nothing less than love them, and when you truly love someone you would do anything for them. Look at the example Jesus gave us. The very nature of love is sacrifice…and everything in me would give up everything and anything for those Mexican people who I love with my whole hurt. I don't mind being hurt, giving things up, laying myself down if I trust God will use my love and sacrifice to heal broken places in their lives.

    God bless you in your ministry, may you stand strong in Christ and in his compassion.

    (You may know my Mother or heard of her…Rev. Marilyn Savage St. Andrews Perth.)

    Blessings,
    Heather

  7. Brian Mullins on December 16, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Our services were cancelled this morning in Cambridge, but Tim Hortons was open ;-).

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