Maintain. Now there’s a word that should be permanently deleted from the vocabulary when talking about church. The dictionary defines maintain, “to keep in existence; to preserve; to keep in a specified state.” I’ve had pastors and leaders describe the church as “maintaining services” or “we’re maintaining our Sunday School.”
Honestly? That makes me sick! The last thing we should be doing is “maintaining.”
OK, so I’m on a soapbox. I admit it. And I recognize that many times the term “maintain” is used and the speaker really doesn’t mean that the church is preserving a program or a building. But think about this with me.
If church attendance is the same now as it was three years ago, what is happening? How could we possibly say we’re being obedient to Matthew 28:18-20? Or, if the only growth the church has experienced is because the 20 somethings are having babies, is that actual growth?
What are we doing to reach the people in our communities who are far from God? This is not the sole responsibility of the pastor – it rests on everyone. We are all responsible for building relationships with people who are outside the household of Faith.
And what about our church buildings? Are we concerned about “maintaining” them or using them up? Wearing them out? Maybe we ought to think of our facilities like a ream of paper for the copier. We keep the paper dry and store it so it stays flat – we treat it with care. But we also use it up!
We need to change our perspective and attitudes. If Sunday School isn’t working don’t maintain it – do something different! If we’re not building relationships with people who are far from God, then something is wrong. If we treat buildings as if we are preserving them for future generations then we need to revisit the definition of idols.
I might make one exception to using the term “maintain” if one is speaking about keeping the church van in safe, running condition. But even the van ought to be viewed as a resource that is eventually used up for the sake of the Kingdom!
Together in Christ,
On a personal note: Lois and I are privileged to be the lead chaperons for our local high school music department trip to New York. We’ll be leaving Thursday evening and returning Tuesday morning. We’re looking forward to spending significant time with this group of 80 teens and adults – some of whom have been turned off regarding church.