Thanks for…wait, there’s no room for me!

I’m a young adult at Watermark Community Church here in Dallas, TX, and while I’m writing to the body at Watermark, I’m also addressing the greater body of Christ at each local church to which they belong. Recently, I was engaged in a conversation about growth at Watermark and the need to make physical room for more people and the “next 100”, as we like to call them, who will walk through the doors and be directed toward Christ.

The discussion was discouraging, to say the least, and essentially presented two negative angles. First, since the resources to build physical room for people haven’t been given, why is that? Implied: Should that be taken as a sign not to proceed? Second, even if we finish out the buildings and enable our body to nearly double in the current location, what happens when we fill up again? Doesn’t it seem futile since we’re just going to have this problem again in the future?

Those questions present biblical and logical fallacies, which I can hopefully quickly address before hitting the real point. First, if we look at Scripture and particularly the Old Testament where God ordained a number of buildings, we see times where the structure stood incomplete due to lack of will and/or funds (2 Kings 12:4ff; Haggai 1:2ff). When this happened, the answer wasn’t to give up or resign, but rather to redouble the people’s action and call them to wholehearted commitment. Second, if we follow the logic of eventually maximizing our current location, we would never have started in the first place. Yes, the project is big. Yes, the structure is large. But so is the city we are striving to reach with the live-saving truth of Christ! We will spread out; we will end up in other locations; but let us not abandon potential where we have it…

Now for the real point. Perhaps this is more about my generation (X/Y) or maybe it’s the 21st century church as a whole, but we have a split-brain dilemma in our attachments to the local body (a.k.a. our home churches). I’m the first to confess that up until this week, I was the chief of this inconsistency. I’ve poured my life (read: time) into Watermark for the past 14 months, but my financial commitment has been token–the safe, 10% tithe that soothes the conscience. Week in, week out, I’ll burn the midnight oil, over-commit, and literally use every waking hour in the service of ministries I believe in at Watermark. Yet the roof under which I spend so much time, and which is often the source of problems (capacity or traffic-flow), I neglect.

How did I get away with this flawed, inconsistent commitment for so long? If I go to Acts (2:42ff; 4:32ff; 6:3ff), the Word tells me of a church wholly invested with both time and resources–they were continually devoting themselves (time) and not claiming anything as their own (resources). So what was my hang up? Well, I’m an analyst and critic by nature and I saw deficiencies at Watermark, places where I believe things should be done differently or where I think they do not aspire high enough. So what was my response? Hold back part of my heart. Give my time, sure, but save those precious dollars for that perfect ministry in the future where it’ll be clear I should go “all in” for God. That’s ridiculous–there are no perfect ministries. And if I see room for growth, why not strive to make it happen? But that was me.

So here I stand. On top of my own brokenness, I say, “Go all in!” If you regularly feed at a local body of believers (read: the place you go each Sunday), don’t hold back your heart. Maybe you’re the opposite–you write a generous check every month, but your time goes elsewhere. Reconcile your balance sheet. If a place is worth your money, it’s probably worth your time (and vice versa). If it isn’t, put your resources in a place worthy of the life God’s given you. If you see problems at your church, welcome to the club and step in further. This club isn’t for passive critics; it’s for those who see (and are) imperfect people running toward a perfect God and who need each other in the race. Paul didn’t “fight the good fight” and “finish the course” of his life by holding back in his commitment to the church (2 Tim. 4:7). He poured himself out as a “drink offering” and suffered much for individual churches (2 Tim. 4:6; 1 Thess. 2).

Wherever you are, in whatever church you are in, be all there. It’s worth it. Pray, serve, give. Go all in.

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