The Christian Life Is More Like a Bus Ride Than a Motorcycle Ride
Hey pastor, here’s some language I use to help my people understand how the gospel relates to our life together as a single congregation with a single gathering (no multiple services or sites).
It’s hard to sing karaoke by yourself. If you like to travel by yourself, then nothing beats the freedom of a motorcycle. You can zip in and out of lanes, cut through the annoyance of construction traffic, go where you want, how you want, and as long as you want. But it’s hard to sing karaoke by yourself. Traveling by bus is slower. You have to wait for others to get on board. You can’t always have the seat you want. You can’t go as fast on the road. You can’t change lanes too well, pass others at will, have the final say on where to stop for food, and of course, someone always has to go to the bathroom. But the karaoke can be a blast!
Life in the church is like life on a bus. We are in this together and are called to make room for others, defer to others, help others, even to serve others. But, in our efforts to make the church as convenient as we can, we have tried to market her more as a motorcycle instead of the bus that she really is. Keeping everyone in one service limits the options that people have. They do not get to pick the times, the style, or even the crowd. When they get on the bus, they are on it with the whole group. But, isn’t that the point of the church? (1 Cor. 12:14–20) If we organize the life of our church by empowering our tendencies to think like a motorcycle, we shouldn’t be surprised when our people resist life on the bus.
Years ago, we outgrew our space, so we added a second service, and then a third. The result was that I was teaching my people that their church provided options for them that they could select for what suited them on that day. Up too late on Saturday night? No problem, pick the late service. Got a lot to do on Sunday? No problem, hit the early service. It’s not that I ever said that, but that is what happened. In fact, over time the people who came to the early service were so committed to the convenience of that time, that when we were able to all meet together at one time in one place, they left. I only thought they were part of the church. Initially, I wanted to blame them for thinking only of themselves and not being committed. Then it dawned on me. I had taught them that.
Today, we’re all on the bus. Oh sure, it’s too long for some, too short for others, too cold, too hot, but we’re in it together and we all sing the same songs, at the same time, to the same Lord and to one another. We all hear the same word, hear the same prayers, hear the same testimonies, watch the same baptisms and eat at the same table—together. I think that’s the point.
The next time you are driving down the road and you come across a group of motorcycles, remember that, even motorcycles don’t like to travel alone too long.