RobAnne and I are helping start a church in Beaumont, California, called Sanctuary. It’s really fun. There are no full-time paid people. We have a few part-time people in children’s ministry and music ministry, but for the most part, it’s just a bunch of laypeople trying to reach a community for Christ.
We’re almost two years old, and we have about 300 people who come to the church. It’s very southern California – the music is loud, we use lots of graphics and visuals and videos, and the printed material is very contemporary and really well done.
My job as one of the volunteer teaching pastors is to preach about once a month. (Our senior pastor is a dentist in the community.) When I’m not preaching, I give the announcements. I love to give the announcements. I think announcements ought to be fun, so we have a good time. I get people laughing, and we enjoy one another, and we talk to one another.
Sunday morning we had lots of announcements – a women’s tea, Bible studies, prayer groups, a ministry to the sick, and even a seminar to learn how to study the Bible – lots and lots of announcements. It was a lot of fun; I enjoyed informing the people of what they could do as part of our church.
But at the end of the announcements I talked about how, with all the things we offer and all the events you can go to, that’s not church. Church is not a building; it’s not activities; it’s not a program. It’s a relationship – a relationship with Jesus and, therefore, a relationship with His family. His brothers and sisters are our brothers and sisters.
Sometimes we get confused and think if we just attend enough events and do enough ministry, we certainly must be involved in the church. I think that’s wrong. Church isn’t in activity; church is in relationships.
Then I began to think about the people in our mission. I wonder how many of us are involved in church – not with leading a church, not with ministering in a church, but in being part of a group of believers who are our equals, who care for us and speak into our lives and spend time helping us grow in Christ.
That’s what I love about our church – we’re beginning to build relationships with each other. If I could do anything to Sanctuary, it would be to keep us from being an activities/performance-based church and become a fellowship of brothers and sisters who are traveling together towards heaven on a journey of learning how to walk with our Lord.