First Things First
Jesus said, “And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. Instead, strive for God’s kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” – Luke 12:29&31 (NRSV)
I was speaking at a conference where teams from a bunch of congregations had gathered. After a while, someone said, “Listen, the question for us is survival. Will our church survive? We don’t have many members. No young people. Our pews are emptying out and so is our bank account. We need you to tell us what to do to survive.”
I had to respect the pain and the earnestness. I knew the feeling was real and the anxiety genuine. I said, “I understand, I do. And yet, ‘How can we survive?’ is the wrong question. And I suspect that worrying it to death isn’t helping you.”
“Well, what should we do?” said that worried, good man.
“I’d suggest that you ask God to show you God’s purpose, God’s calling and mission for your church. What is God calling you to do? Call on the Lord to show you that and give you what you need to be about it, and leave the other things to sort themselves out. I suspect it was something like that Jesus had in mind when he said, ‘Seek first the kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.’”
There are so many congregations today worrying and wondering if they will survive. Trust me—better, trust Jesus. It’s the wrong question. The right one is, “What’s God’s purpose for our church today?” Discover that and go after it with holy love and wild abandon. Nothing else matters.
God, give us the courage to seek your will and way for us. Let your purpose and call so take hold of us that we lose ourselves for your sake, and thus are truly found. Amen.
This devotional by Tony Robinson also appears in This Is How We Begin: Devotionals and Prayers to Start Meetings, a collection of devotionals intended to center church meetings in God’s wisdom. Order This Is How We Begin here.