Your church is infested with bugs

My wife is something of a spiritual super soldier. She prays daily, reads the Bible, and even keep a gratitude journal. In many ways, She is the yin to my yang.

But she has a weakness. Spiders.

It doesn’t matter how often one might tell her that these creatures are part of God’s good creation, she despises them. So if there is a spider, no matter how big or small, I am called out to eradicate the overblown infestation.

A few months ago, our twins came home from preschool having had a series of lessons on insects. They even brought home a mantra that stuck as a common phrase in our home.

Every bug has a job.

Every church that I have belonged to has had that one person, or more honestly, those 3 to 4 people, who were bugs. Sometimes they were the people who always turned around to glower at the young family whose child was making too much noise, in their opinion. Other times, it was that person who always had one more question, or felt the need to express a concern, when everyone else was ready to make a big change.

But if every bug has a job, shouldn’t every person in the church (even the annoying ones) have one as well?

A low fog has accompanied us recently as I walk my newly-minted kindergarteners to school in the morning. Along with the feeling that you’ve suddenly been transported to London, it also has left us with beautiful dew-laden spiderwebs along our path. And while creating spiderwebs for our viewing pleasure is not their main job, each one reminds me that things are often more complex than they seem at first glance.

I suspect the same may be true of some of those bugs that reside in our pews. As frustrating, stagnating, and even hurtful, as their behavior can be, each person we encounter has a job to do, a calling to fulfill.

"Dewey Decor" used under Creative Commons from Flickr user Julie Falk.
“Dewey Decor” used under Creative Commons from Flickr user Julie Falk.

On some occasions, the misbehavior of those we perceive as bugs may be a sign that they are currently out of place. Is there another job somewhere in the church that God has equipped them for? On other occasions, perhaps their willingness to discomfort others is exactly the thing you might need to provoke change.

In sharing this post with my wife, she responded, “Every bug has a job, just not in my house.” I mention this because it is also sometimes true that there are people who aren’t ready to contribute to a church that is focused serving its community. Sometimes the bugs infest a church so much that it becomes uninhabitable (like this). This is likely to happen when we focus more upon people’s comfort and less upon their discipleship.

The key to a thriving, vital church, is developing some process to transform and equip us to be the bugs God calls us to be so we can do the jobs that are needed to build the kin(g)dom. Small groups are one pattern that works well for many churches, so long as they don’t devolve to comfortable, affinity groups.

Reality sets in…

As I was getting ready for the day this morning, I heard our five-year-old twins calling out my name. I finished brushing my teeth and went across the hallway to their bedroom.

I find the two of them kneeling on the floor with giddy looks of pride on their faces. One has a paper towel under which the remains of a spider could be found.

Despite those lessons about the purpose every bug has, sometimes we resort to our baser instincts. It’s easier to crush a bug then it is to try to understand it.

May God give us the patience and the grace to try to understand our bugs before we crush them. And may we each find ample opportunity to discover our vocation lest we be destined to become another’s pest.

Photo Credit: Featured image used under Creative Commons from Flickr user Thomas Shahan.

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