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April 2, 2016

Learning to Relax

By Phil Metzger

This is a message to pastors and those involved in church leadership, but I believe it is relevant to us all!

Two “devils” and one “jesus”

We experienced a new record of “interesting” in a one-week period at church recently. We had two “devils” and one “jesus” visit.

It’s pretty common for the unusual to happen at our inner city church, but this took things to a whole new level. The two “devils” didn’t quite make it into church but “jesus” did. From the beginning of worship we were concerned for “jesus”. He was weeping and we wanted to reach out to him.

One of our leaders was just waiting for worship to be over so he could pray with him and see how he could help. When our worship leader said Amen, “jesus” went straight to the stage shouting that he was the third person of the Trinity. He was fast!

The ushers and I were right behind trying to calmly escort him out. He didn’t want to leave so we helped him a little more. I was proud of our men as they were extremely respectful, but also firm. As “jesus” was leaving, he shouted out that he was the reason gas prices dropped by five cents, that he didn’t have shoes, and that he was hungry.

Someone found him a pair of shoes and our head usher took the young man to dinner. It seemed he was either high or off his medication. Either way it’s sad, and now I’m known as the guy who kicked “jesus” out of church!

Is anyone really welcome at your church?

Since my first church plant 18 years ago, we have had people come to church with every conceivable circumstance. I remember the first young man who came to church drunk and wanted to talk during the Bible study. The church was only about 15 people at the time. There were no ushers, no boundaries, just a really tall, muscular drunk guy weeping.

I asked him if it would be okay if we spoke after I was finished—and several minutes later he agreed. We had a great chat and from time to time I would see him in town. We continued a good relationship and he knew that he was loved and not judged.

I wish I could say that I always “did the right thing” but that’s definitely not true. I could mention—to my shame—several instances when I was more concerned about “church” than people. It’s easy to justify.

“You can’t help a drunk person when they are drunk.”- Usually true.

“You can’t stop your service for every single person that wants to interrupt.”- Also true.

Here’s the thing I’m learning. How I respond to interruptions and hurting people says A LOT to the church.

Can I make a suggestion to those of you who are pastors and church leaders? Learn to relax a bit more! Things are going to happen in our services that turn the focus and throw us off a bit. Maybe that’s okay.

Jesus didn’t preach in sterile church environments. The greatest truths the world has ever heard were probably spoken with the sounds of crying babies and the bleating of sheep in the background.

We work hard to create an environment where people can come into church distraction-free, but that is not always possible and that’s okay! Let’s learn to relax. God is bigger than distractions. God is greater than disruptions. Who knows if those moments won’t be an incredible opportunity to learn about mercy by showing mercy?

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Phil Metzger

Phil Metzger (@metzgerphil) is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Budapest, as well as, the ministry director of Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe in Vajta, Hungary. He has served as a full-time missionary since 1998. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he oversees Calvary church plants throughout Eastern Europe, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. His heart and ministry is focused on making disciples and seeing the church impact the world for Christ. He would like to see more churches planted in order to bring the Word of God to the lost. Phil and his wife Joy have four beautiful children: Niki, Karina, Judah, and Hannah.


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