It was the Monday before Easter and I knew something in me had to change. After pushing snooze on my alarm for the millionth time, I grabbed my coffee and hustled out the door, ready to conquer the last-minute details prepping for Easter services kicking off at the church where I was working in just a few days.
For the past few weeks, my life was overflowing with editing Easter invite cards, proofing mailers, developing social media strategies, equipping interns with the tools they needed to succeed, crafting announcement verbiage, attending rehearsals, visiting campuses, and recruiting photographers for the 10 upcoming Easter services. To say my brain was filled to the brim with all things Easter services was an understatement.
And all of this was good. In fact, it was going great. The upcoming services were going to be epic and I was pumped. But something in the weekend services before this particular Monday struck me in a new way. We had planned to partake in communion in the services as a special, intentional time to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us. That Monday when I grabbed my coffee and headed out the door for work, I realized I had never participated in the service we so carefully planned and put together. I helped prepare all the details for others to come and remember Jesus? sacrifice, but I never paused to remember for myself.
I couldn?t shake the feeling that I was missing something…and that before diving into Easter services, something needed to change. I went about my day, tackled my to do list, continued to prep for services, and headed home for Small Group. As my small group girls arrived, I decided it was time to push pause together.
Each of the women in my group were also working at church and feeling the weight of final details needing to be done before the end of the week. As we began to talk, we collectively realized we hadn?t participated in the weekend?s communion service ? we hadn?t paused, we hadn?t remembered, we hadn?t said ?thank you?. So I grabbed a loaf of bread, a gallon of cranberry juice, and a stack of plastic cups. One by one, we broke bread, poured a cup of juice, and then began to pray, observing communion.
We prayed for each other. We prayed for our church. We prayed for our co-workers and our pastors. We prayed for the services. We thanked God for sending His Son. And we then prayed for the people who would come. And as we prayed, we began to cry.
We weren?t crying because we were tired or emotional or spent; we cried because in an instant, we realized in our hustle, in our doing, we were missing it entirely. While our focus had been on creating epic environments ??and they were epic! ??we had taken our eyes off the people who would be stepping into those environments themselves. We had forgotten that someone?s mom would be attending church for the first time and needed to experience the hope we have in Christ; we had forgotten that someone?s son would be coming back to church after a time away, wanting nothing to do with church; we had forgotten that someone?s co-worker was coming to hear about Jesus Christ for the first time and this could be the game changer in their story; we forgot that real people were about to walk through our doors with real hurt, struggle, and pain, real doubt, real questions, and real hopes and dreams. We were preparing for real people to experience hope in Christ and hadn?t thought about the people. And that broke our hearts.
In making church happen, we forgot we are the church, and the church is people. The church isn?t a building, a service, or a slick program. The church is people. The church is you and me. And those of us working in church need the church too. We need to experience the radical grace of Jesus too. And when we take our eyes off the reality that people need Jesus and we need Him too, we?ve lost sight of it all.
When we said amen that night, none of us left Small Group the same. As we stepped into Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, we were expectant. We saw the people ? I mean, we really saw them. As they stepped onto our campus for a service, rather than seeing the flashy lights, pretty graphics, and stellar details, we noticed the moms and dads, sons and daughters, grandmas and grandpas, co-workers and friends. We saw them walking in, hesitant, unsure, and then brick by brick, the walls came down. We celebrated as we saw them meet our Savior and we worshipped with every fiber in our beings.
And as we saw the people ? the church ? we saw ourselves. We saw why we do this thing called church ??not for the creative meetings, to do lists, music. No, we do this because we had an inciting incident with Jesus Christ in our stories and want to partner with people to experience this crazy life change too. It?s about introducing people to Jesus. It?s about following Him and helping others do the same.
Leaving that Easter, my prayer for me is to never lose sight of this ?why? again. When I lost sight that people matter because their stories matter, I lost sight of it all completely. And I don?t want to live there again.