Christianity has become a religion of activity, commotion and constant activity. Just read the lawn signs of those assemblies that have buildings and it is one event after another, one program after another, one guest speaker after another… I get tired just reading the signs.
In some of my better moments I wonder what is really under the kilt? What kind of life exists under all that activity – involvements, contacts, fellowshipping, attendance at specials, worship services and committees and …?
What is under the kilt?
Many years ago when my local church was still fairly young we were running events and activities seven days a week almost year-round. We were an active, growing, and dynamic young congregation with our first building and enjoying a moderate measure of success. However, I felt the whole thing was missing substance and that we were all too busy – me included.
Now, that may be because I love my time alone (with God and with just me). I am an introvert – extreme. I think a good time is being by myself and being reflective. My favourite words are silence, stillness, solitude and Spirit. But, I really felt this time it was a leading of the Lord and that He was telling us that something was wrong. He was asking me to look under the kilt!
So, for a number of months I spoke with people about this issue – and talked from the pulpit about it. I observed people, their activities, their behaviour, their involvements. Then one day I announced that, for a season, we were going to slow events down – have fewer services, fewer meetings, fewer Bible studies, fewer socials, simply fewer events… And about 1/4 of my people left the Church and joined other churches who were not doing “such a stupid thing”. Worse – 1/2 my leadership left as well.
This was not because we did something abruptly – we didn’t. This was an 18 month process. This was not because we stop pastoring people – we were still there and still available. We simply told people that for a “season” we were slowing things down so they could spend more time with their spouse and their family.
Ah! Here was the problem. People did not want to have to spend time with their husband or wife – let alone their kids. Things were not good in the marriage and in the family. Never had been in reality. And here I was telling them that I had looked under the kilt and didn’t like what I saw. It was time to fix some basic foundations so that we could then move forward in strength and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It was time for them to look under the kilt (of constant motion and Christian activity).
Those who stayed with us benefited greatly from this time to focus on what was under the kilt -under all the surface activities of church, life, and family. Those that left – most 20+ years later are divorced and not attending any Church regularly.
Well the season of slowing down to allow a look under the kilt has not been as short as we thought. We are now a quarter century into the slowdown – that’s right – 25 years. And it has been great, is great and, I know, will continue to be great.
We are not a large church. We are not a well known church. We are not a church that uses hype to move services along or emotion to make people feel the presence of God was really there in the service today. We worhip and express our hearts; we listen and feed our spirits from the Word of God; we drink coffee and fellowship with one another … But it is real and alive – and families have time to be families and people have time to be people.
St. Athanasius once said (a great Church Father in the early Church) “He became what we are that He might make us what He is.”
For us to take on the very nature and character of Jesus we need quality time with Him and a quantity of time daily. Major activities all the time at the local Church does not allow this. It requires silence, stillness, solitude and the Holy Spirit helping us to look at our own hearts to allow us to become like Jesus. We need time to look under the kilt!
Oswald Chambers is quoted as saying: “It is the unseen and the spiritual in people that determines the outward and the actual.”
In my words – what’s under the kilt? For what is on the inside (under the surface) determines the true value of a life and the true quality of the life lived on the surface where the rubber meets the road.
I don’t like the “outward and the actual” that I see in most Christians and most Churches. It is time to sneak a peek under the kilt. Afterall, the Christian faith is not a religion – it is a relationship (John 17:3) with God and, as a result of that healthy relationship, solid relationships with others in our world.