Do you remember where you were the first time you saw an “I love my church” t-shirt? I can’t remember the first place I saw it, but I know I loved the idea. What a great way to market the church, and express our love. We called up our t-shirt company right away and got them ordered. And would you believe it, they sold out as soon as we got them in. People loved to wear the shirt, but I’m not sure if they actually loved the church.
You see what I saw happening was a desire to wear the shirt, but not always a desire to actually live out what it said. The shirt cost them $15, but to actually do what it said would cost them quite a bit more.
In my opinion, if you really love your church, there are some things you do to express your love. For those of us who are pastors or on staff at a church here are some things I think we should be doing.
Pastor, if you really love your church…
- Build relationships. People get connected and engaged in a church because of the relationships they make. A large part of ministry is just building genuine loving relationships. Sometimes those are built on the weekends, other times it’s during the week small groups. If you love your church you’ll be building relationships with the people in your church.
- Grow yourself. It’s not anyone else’s job to grow you. You can’t use that as an excuse any longer. There’s just too many resources out there. When you get better, everyone around you gets better.
- Give a tithe. It drives me crazy to hear people on staff at a church say they’re not obligated to tithe. I don’t care what you’re theological beliefs are on the subject, if you love your church you’ll want to be giving to it. If you don’t love the church enough to give 10% of your income, then you shouldn’t be working at the church.
- Pray for the church and staff. The people on your team and the people in your church are under attack. We have an enemy that wants to steal, kill, and destroy us. They need your prayers.
- Invite people to church. Don’t ask your congregation to do something you’re not willing to do. If you really love your church, you’re going to want to invite others to be a part of it.
I’d argue if you have a hard time doing any of the above, you might not truly love your church. Or, it may be that you just love something else more.
I believe a more accurate t-shirt for some of us would say, “I love my church” on the front, and on the back “But I love myself more.”
If that comes off as harsh, take comfort in knowing that it’s a t-shirt I wear from time to time as well. I just don’t want to get comfortable wearing it, and I don’t want you to get comfortable wearing it either.
Looking for a great sermon series idea? Why not challenge your congregation to really love their church.
Here are four things I’d be asking them to do.
Congregant, do you really love your church?
- Show Up – to church, more than twice a month. While “I heart my church” t-shirt sales have been on the rise, church attendance has been on the decline with many Christians. If you really love your church, you won’t want to miss what’s going on each Sunday, and you’ll make it a priority to be there every week you can.
- Serve – in the church, at least once a month. That’s twelve times a year. Surely that’s not too much for someone who loves the church. I would argue someone who loves the church should actually want to serve more, not less since we are called to be servants.
- Give – to the church, on a regular basis. The church’s main purpose is to go and make followers of Jesus. Your generosity helps to accomplish this purpose. If you love your church, you should have no problem giving to it. If you can’t afford to give, you can’t afford to buy the t-shirt.
- Pray – for your church and your pastor, every week. Your pastor carries an incredible burden for those inside and outside of the church. You can help them by lifting them up in prayer. The people inside your church have needs as well, even if we don’t always see them. Lifting them up in prayer can be one of the most important things you do each week.
Travis Stephens is a husband, father, and executive pastor of a small town church that went big. He has a passion for helping pastors grow themselves and the churches they serve. You can find out more about him and his ministry at TravisStephens.me.