My recent post, “10 Wishes from a Pew Sitter,” produced quite a flurry of impassioned responses. Some resonated with this pew sitter. Some differed. Some felt insulted.

I certainly didn’t wish to insult (forgive me). Just to prod. And to encourage some reflection. I’ve reflected too. The comments made me think, consider, reconsider, and wonder.

One reader recoiled at my suggestion of allowing coffee into a worship service: “Don’t expect to relax and drink coffee when you should be thinking about the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God. Would you act that way with the President or the Queen of England? I don’t think so.”

This gets me thinking. What is the real purpose of ministry? What is your overarching goal? The comments to my little blog post revealed a number of heartfelt priorities:
– Correct worship
– Reverence
– Tradition
– Formality
– Musical taste
– Carpets unstained by coffee

These things may be important (except the carpet), but should they be what drives ministry? How do your priorities filter how you approach ministry? What is your ultimate ministry purpose?

When it comes to finding clarity of purpose, I love Jesus’ encounter with Mary and Martha. Jesus told the sisters that “only one thing” truly mattered. That “one thing” was exemplified in the relationship being nurtured between Jesus and Mary.

That’s it. That’s the one thing. The big deal. It’s what drove Jesus’ ministry. And it’s what he prepared his disciples to replicate.

Jesus showed that growing a relationship with him resembles how we grow a good relationship with other people. But he was criticized for that. The religious elite called him a “glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” He probably stained the carpet too.

But his mission was clear. It was all about the relationship–with him. And with others. That mission dominated everything he did and said. Building the relationship was more important than tradition. More important than formality. More important than religious taboos, such as picking grain on the Sabbath.

It’s that devotion to relationship that drives my passion to relate better with those who do not yet have an actual relationship with Jesus. And it also drove my “10 Wishes” list. In the weeks to come I’ll unwrap how that devotion impacts each item on the list.

In the meantime, I’m thinking about the Queen of England. If she offers me a cup of coffee (doesn’t she drink that other stuff?), I think I’ll accept. And relax. We’ll be good friends. And if she doesn’t care about the carpet, I won’t either.

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