This Sunday marked the eighth week of my journey to explore the many houses of worship in the area for a series called ‘Exploring Faith,’ but which I now affectionately refer to it as my 'House of God Tour.'
On Sunday, May 22, in the wake of the Rapture that never came, I visited a church in Mendham and found myself saying over and over again, amen, amen, amen as Pastor Doug Welbourn delivered his passionate plea to the congregation urging them to “Stop the insanity.”
He was driving home the point that we have become too busy to contemplate, too busy to reflect on what really matters, too busy for God.
My ‘tour’ took me to the Mendham Hills Community Church, located on Route 24 in Mendham, a vibrant church part of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, with more than 500 members ranging in age from mid-twenties to early fifties.
Of course the first thing I noticed as I walked into the church was that it didn’t feel like a conventional church at all, but more like a theatre. Before me was a massive stage with a 20-foot curved video screen and theatrical lighting that moved from yellow to shades of purple, orange, and pink throughout the service.
Upon the stage was a six-piece band with three guitarists, a pianist, violinist and two vocalists who filled the enormous space with their presence and their richly textured music and voices.
Lead Pastor Welbourn was dressed casually, but entirely in black. He has a big personality. He is warm, funny and challenging.
This Sunday, his sermon was centered upon the Parable of the Great Banquet.
On the large screen was the title that set the tone for his talk: “The Upside Down Kingdom: Soccer Moms, Workaholics in the Kingdom of God.”
He told the parable which was about a story that Jesus told of a man who was preparing to host a great banquet and through his servant, invited many of his usual guests, but all of the them had an excuse, some reasonable, others not so reasonable.
Welbourn then asked the question of his congregation, “Are you too busy to attend the feast of God?”
He challenged the parents of the congregation to consider how they are encouraging their children to spend their time.
“How many of you have children who are running from one sport to another? Some kids these days are playing three different sports; baseball, soccer, lacrosse, but do they have a moment to reflect, to contemplate to volunteer their time to help others?” said Welbourn.
Then he challenged all of us to think about our ridiculously busy lives which rarely allow us time for contemplation and reflection.
“Stop the insanity! What are we doing and what are we teaching our children when we encourage them to be busy every moment and to only focus on what the world has to offer them–instead of what they can offer the world?” he asked.
Welbourn’s sermon truly hit me where I live.
It made me think about my own 'workaholic' way of living which I blame on the necessity of survival, but know full well–is a choice.
No matter how busy we are, we can make time to reflect on who we really are and what really matters in life.
Granted, most of us have to work for survival, and Welbourn said he was not criticizing those who are working to keep food on the table and take care of themselves and their families.
But he also asked us to truly think about how often are we working for things or to maintain situations that are really not bringing us true nourishment.
How often are we working for things that ultimately don’t bring us true and abiding joy?
He gave the example of eating bread that has no nutritional value whatsoever, so one could eat and eat and still be starving.
How many of us are so busy being busy that we are starving emotionally and intellectually? How many of us are so busy that we don’t have time to listen to a friend or a stranger who is in pain?
How many of us are too busy to be pleasant or too busy to be simply joyful?
As Pastor Welbourn asked, how many of us just simply have too many excuses and are missing the great feast?
To learn more about the Mendham Hills Community Church visit the website at: www.mendhamhills.org.