Here is a list of the top3 things I’ve read this past week with a bit of commentary around each and a link (if possible) so you can read the entire article too.
#1 – How I Spend My Sundays: Stephen J. Dubner of “Freakonomics’ NY Times
This is one of my favorite recurring pieces in the NY Times. Each week they do an expose of one person’s Sunday routines. I love to hear what other people do on their Sunday as a way to help me better understand why or why not folks would choose to attend a worship service. While I love to hear about family time and unwinding, it is quite stark to see rarely someone who chooses “church” as part of their Sunday morning routine. I know, I know…it’s New York and not the BibleBelt USA. But honestly, the motives seem to be the same for what Sunday is all about in the BibleBelt of otherwise: 1) sleeping in, 2) unwind with a relaxed pace for life, 3) connect with family, 4) good food. I am a bit oversimplifying, but not by much.
The Bible is clear that we were meant for times of activity and times of rest. It is also clear we are created for times of worship both privately in our homes and publicly. So how did we get to the place where times of rest and worship are competing for our time and attention? A. Overscheduling of our life for starters. There is little to no margin in our life and mine is a prime example. B. Neglecting the concept of Sabbath on a weekly basis as well as larger chunks of time on a 7-year basis and even a time of Jubilee on a generational basis. It is through these intentional times of rest we are rejuvenated for our times of work as well as times of worship. C. Falling into the consumeristic notion that we must get something out of something before we give our time to it. Worship’s by-product is something we “get” but it’s main work is something we “give”.
I love Dietrich Boenhoffer’s explanation of the need to persevere in meditation (can also apply to worship I firmly believe) even when we aren’t “getting something out of it” when he says in his book Life Together:
“Above all, it is not necessary that we should have any unexpected, extraordinary experiences in meditation. This can happen, but if it does not, it is not a sign that the meditation period has been useless. Not only at the beginning, but repeatedly, there will be times when we feel a great spiritual dryness and apathy, an aversion, even inability to meditate. We dare not be balked by such experiences. Above all, we must not allow them to keep us from adhering to our meditation period with great patience and fidelity. It is, therefore, not good for us to take too seriously the many untoward experiences we have with ourselves in meditation. It is here that our old vanity and our illicit claims upon God may creep in by a pious detour as if it were our right to have nothing but elevating and fruitful experiences, and as if the discovery of our own inner poverty were quite below our dignity. With that attitude, we shall make no progress. Impatience and self-reproach will only foster our complacency and entangle us ever more deeply in the net of self-centered introspection. But there is no more time for such morbidity in meditation than there is in the Christian life as a whole. We must center our attention on the Word alone and leave consequences to its action. For may it not be that God himself sends us these hours of reproof and dryness that we may be brought again to expect everything from his Word? ‘Seek God, not happiness’—this is the fundamental rule of all meditation. If you seek God alone, you will gain happiness: that is its promise.”
When Bonhoeffer says, “as if the discovery of our own inner poverty were quite below our dignity” is humbling. I believe he is asserting that dry times are the very moments God is helping us grow more Christlike.
I’ll stop preaching now and encourage you to examine your own patterns in life and why, if it has, does worship get squeezed out by other competing factors.
#2 – Can You Keep Your Meeting to 5-Minutes? WSJ Article
I’ll not add anything here…I’ve already taken my 5-minutes above!
Is it possible to structure things in an organization in a way where leadership is not needed? Can we make things so rock-solid, predictable, and mostly flawless that certain areas can roll on without much need for leadership? The jury is still out for me, but I will at least forward the wikipedia page that gives some details so you can make your own decision. At the very least, I/we could probably spend some more time developing systemic approaches to things that help advance our organizations mission even when we are away or otherwise focused on other things.