by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          May 1, 2018.

We are solution people. Churches, by their nature, provide solutions. We have solutions for everything! “Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to…anoint you with oil.” (James 5:13-14, MSG) We have no shortage of solutions!

The trouble is, we have lost touch with our problems.

A solution is only as relevant as it is successful at addressing a particular problem. For example, nursing your child is a great solution. No one would argue that you shouldn’t feed your children. However, if what your child REALLY needs is to have her diaper changed, then feeding her won’t solve the problem! She’ll still be fussing, agitated, and uncomfortable. That’s why one of the biggest challenges new parents face is trying to figure out what it is their newborn really needs. Newborns are not very good at articulating their needs.

Neither is society.

Churches need to become a lot more like new parents; ever mindful of the wellbeing of those in our care (both church participants AND the wider community) and continually assessing what are their most pressing needs. The trouble is, we love our solutions more than our desire to address our community’s ills.

We have these wonderful solutions like church school, traditional worship, adult ed. programs, youth groups, and on and on. Then we get frustrated because no one comes to these great programs. We don’t understand why so many people choose not to take advantage of the solutions we offer.

There are only a couple of reasons why so few people choose to participate in our programs. Either we are not communicating our solutions well enough, or our solutions aren’t addressing the problems people really have. We’re trying to feed the baby, when what the baby really needs is a diaper change!

What would happen if we took an inventory of all the programs we offered and started off by asking, “What problem is this solution trying to address?” We would then need to ask, “How effective is this solution at addressing the particular problem?” and, “How well are we communicating this solution to the community?”

Another way of taking inventory would be by doing this process in reverse. Start off by asking ourselves, “What are the major problems present in our communities?” Then ask, “What are some of the different ways we could address this problem?” and, “What is the most effective way we, as a faith community, should address this problem?”

What we SHOULDN’T do, but generally do, is keep doing our old solutions and complaining that no one participates. This is because we love those solutions. They worked in the past and they still work for US. Why shouldn’t they work for OTHERS now? The reality is: they don’t. If they did, our pews would be packed, our church school rooms overflowing, and our activities bursting at the seams.

So how about it? Are you more committed to addressing our communities’ problems, or holding onto our solutions? As long as it is the latter, our efforts will struggle and we will fail to effectively be the community of faith God calls us to be.