I don’t like making a big fuss over small things. Before I became a Christian, to me a wedding ceremony was just a formal process that gave legitimacy to two people who wanted to live together. Accordingly, I felt that my own simple wedding ceremony, which was attended by only a handful of people, was still fussing over nothing and that the sooner we got it over with, the better.
I feel that funerals are also things we can easily make too much fuss over. In my will, I’ve requested that my funeral ceremony be as simple as possible and that my body be cremated. I don’t want people to make too much fuss over burying my body, which to me is simply the clothes I’ve worn while living in this world. I also want to spare my children of trouble of visiting a gravesite and taking care of it.
This way of thinking makes it hard for me to preach sermons on special occasions. It’s even hard for me to give special sermons on Christmas and on Easter because to me, the birth of Jesus Christ and his resurrection should be celebrated year-round, not just on particular days of the year. I don’t preach a special sermon on Thanksgiving Sundays because I feel that we must give thanks to God always, not only on a special day. Neither do I do anything special on New Year’s because I feel that we must live every day afresh, just like starting a new year.
I must be a very unexciting and boring pastor. If it was up to me, there would be no church-wide events or activities. However, God clearly had pity on our church members because He sent as my coworkers many lay leaders who are creative and full of energy. They have started and developed many interesting and useful church-wide programs such as our annual Missions Celebration Week, the North American House Church Conference for Shepherds, intercessory prayer meetings, and our digital web magazine. These ideas weren’t my own, but came from our lay leaders.
The annual New Year’s Party for VIPs is another event that was started by a lay leader. When he first proposed the event to me, with the purpose of giving non-believers a chance to visit the church and get familiar with it, my initial impulse was to say no. I felt that it would be a waste of energy over nothing. But I do have one virtue: when someone wants to do something badly enough, I cooperate, as long as there’s not too much harm or danger in doing it. So I gave him my permission.
As the years have gone by, I’ve been amazed by the results. Last year, 146 non-believers attended the event and more than 2/3 of them started to come to house church meetings and attending Sunday worship services. I’m expecting a similar, if not better, result this year.
I want to express my gratitude to my lay leaders for initiating so many worthy programs and events without help from their boring pastor.
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