The Kingdom is a Park
I was at a communi-D barbecue the other day.
I had some friends who were at their first barbecue ever. They had heard me talk about it a little bit, but this was the first time we were all able to come out together.
When they got there some of us split off to go play ball, others sat down with a group of young girls and paint nails, another sat and had good talks with some of the other kids who were interested in neither.
I started to notice how cool this was. Here were some kids who were playing football with some guys who like hanging out in that community. These little girls were having a couple older girls in their early twenties having a great time painting nails with them. And others were sitting around enjoying hot dogs with their neighbors.
It was a cool thing because all of us just showed up and immediately gravitated toward the things that we loved and good at. It was a lot like church that way. We showed up and were able to just go where we felt our gifts were best used. For some that was football, others were gifted for the grill, others were called to paint nails.
No one was competing. No one was saying, “real ministry looks like grilling.” or “Football is for stronger Christians, nail-painting is for lesser Christians.” There was none of that. We were just playing in a park, people going where they felt gifted.
It amazing how often what you are gifted for is also what you enjoy. The guy at the grill wasn’t standing there saying, “This stinks.” He was there because he was good at it and it is what he wanted to do– what he enjoyed.
This is how church should be.
I heard a story once about a guy who was hired to change a stagnant congregation into a force for Jesus in their city. Ministries were competing, folks were thinking of church as a job instead of a community. The first thing he did was bring all 100 full and part-time staffers into a room and tell them that they were fired, but that they may apply for any job at the church, whatever job they wanted, and if the job they wanted didn’t exist, write up a job description for it. After two weeks, everyone had been hired back, but into jobs that they wanted and felt called to. From there the church erupted into the community, spilling over the love of Christ everywhere they went.
Church isn’t meant to be competitive. Ministries not meant to fight or gossip. Kingdom work is like the park. You show up, you find what looks best for you, and you put yourself there to love others.