Today is Wednesday. That means I left my house at 8:30AM this morning and have been at church or doing ministry related tasks all day and have not yet been home. My baby has been sick for five days now, and the oldest now has a fever also.
It would be an understatement to say our youth ministry is understaffed right now. This would not be the end of the world except you see our bus ministry is also severely understaffed right now. Which means, I leave on the bus with two toddlers in tow, as my wife arrives at church to practice with the student worship band, about an hour before church starts. I then arrive back at church (with 20+ kids and teens who wouldn't have come to church otherwise) right as church is starting. I drop my kids off at class and walk on the platform to lead worship and the remainder of our meeting. My wife and some other caring church folks hang out with the students after, while I get the priveldge of visiting with some of the coolest Jesus seeking kids you'll ever meet, while I give them a ride home.
I know this sounds insane, but most of the time, it actually works. I certainly would not call it "best praxis" but it does work. Tonight my wife stayed home with the sickies, we had missionary guests, and retreat applications were being turned in. This was officially too much! However, God wonderfully blessed the night. With the exception of one major train wreck, in the middle of "In the secret", the song service went surprisely well. Students worshiped and God's presence was real and manifest in a special way. The missionaries presented wonderful narratives as they shared their own testimonies and stories from their own journeys. Students listened well and asked relavant approriate questions afterwards. Some of my new, less committed kids, were the first ones to turn in applications for our upcoming spiritual retreat. All of these things were wonderfully encouraging! So why am I frustrated?
You see, my s.p. (senior pastor) comes up to me sometime following the song service during the first missionaries testimony and asks "When did we change the hat rule?" "WHAT!", I whispered...
...just a little bit of history. When I was growing up, you showed up at church with your shirt tucked in. When you walked into the building, you took off you hat, because scripture says "God will not hear the prayers of a man with a hat on" or something like that... also becuase it was tradition, and polite, but mostly cause the Bible said not to. This is the same church I now have the joy of serving 15 years later. Also, in the spirit of honoring others, and teaching some old fashioned but valuable manners, I regularly begin our worship time by asking all the gentleman to remove their hats as a physical reminder that this time and this place are set aside for worship. Now tonight I realized that beyond that opening statement I do nothing to "enforce the hat rule". I also realized that while most of the guys seem to respect that opening request, following the closure of our worship time, most of the guys must put their hats back on. Because I looked around when my s.p. asked me this, and it seemed like every young man there would not have his prayers heard.
...WHO CARES ABOUT A ROUND PIECE OF WOOL! OR COTTON! OR MICROFIBER BLEND! Surely God is way bigger than a hat. While I have never made a concious decision to reverse the superior hat ruling, I guess over the last five years of full time ministry here, I let it go somewhere along the way. I've unintentionally contextualized to the culture. I no longer see hats and no hats, just people, many who want to worship Jesus, and seem to be hearing from Him, even though they wore a hat inside! So here it is: My first official rant (all the others were unofficial). This is a perfect example of THINGS THAT SHOULDN"T MATTER... but evidently, to some people, they still do.