I don’t know about you, but I love camping. I love getting outdoors and “roughing it” for a few days. Usually when my husband and I camp, we bring our tent that fits in the bed of our truck with a nice, 4 inch thick memory foam mattress to sleep on. We love preparing meals over a campfire after a long day of bike riding or canoeing, and if the weather is not too hot… it’s pretty much heaven.
But for me, I think the best part of camping is the planning and packing. I know I am not in the majority on this one, but hear me out. I love the challenge of living simple. I make my lists of items to pack (and yes, I said lists…plural, because there are definitely more than one!) I pack bedding, tents, clothes, several coolers, food, etc. And boy, I’m good. I think of it all. (Okay, maybe I need to take that back… there’s nothing simple about how I pack for camping. I’d take the kitchen sink if I could.) I’ve always been a detailed person, making sure that I’ve crossed every “T” and dotted every “I”.
A few summers ago we went with our friends for a weekend getaway. You should have seen the vehicle once we loaded it with all of our supplies. It had an uncanny resemblance to the car from The Beverly Hillbillies.
We used it all too! Bug spray, lanterns, tools, electric stove, life vests, folding tables, lawn chairs, a first aid kit, sunscreen, towels, paper plates, paper cups, a coffee maker, flip flops, pots and pans and the list goes on and on! It was a bit embarrassing to see how much stuff five grown adults and a dog need to survive in the wild for just three days. But it sure was fun!
It makes me think about how we do church. After a decade and a half of serving full time in four different churches, I’ve realize just how dependent we get on “stuff”. Sunday mornings become our main event. The production includes lights, cameras, microphones, sound systems, cool sets, drums, guitars, doughnuts, coffee, bulletins, offering buckets, computer check-in systems, toys for the nursery, puppets for the kids, snacks for the toddlers, supplies for cool object lessons, print material for our welcome table and on and on.
If you want to get a real idea about how much stuff we use to do church week after week, join the set up & tear down crew at a portable church. We love our stuff. And we use it all!
Even though everything serves a purpose, the resources God has given us to do His work are not the church. The building we meet in is not the church. We are the church.
You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light. When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave.
Matthew 10:9-11 (MSG)
Although it’s fun to dream of big church buildings and cool ministry resources, not having these things should not keep us from telling people about Jesus Christ. These things are just tools. We already have everything we need… the message of hope through Jesus. When we have nothing, let’s shout the good news. And when we are in plenty, overflowing with God’s blessings, let’s appreciate the resources and never let the stuff become more important than the mission.