question any parish can ask is actually rather simple, “Are we doing what Jesus wants us to be doing?”
Now that question should actually be obvious. Surely if we claim to be followers of Christ we should be doing our best to do the actual things that Christ commands. They’re not hard to find, a simple reading of the New Testament will reveal any number of places where Jesus directly tells us what to do and in very basic and simple terms. He also tells us that there will be accountability for our doing, or not doing, the same.
So why not do just that? Why not, for example, when we have parish council meetings start out with a simple question “Are we doing and being what Jesus asks?” and with that as the standard then proceed to seek God’s face for the wisdom and guidance to make what Jesus tells us real in everything we do. Although the implications for many parishes could be profound, the actual process is quite dimple and direct.
Now some would say “But we have all these things we need like keeping the lights on and such…” and all of that is true but what did Jesus say? Jesus said that God knows we have these practical needs and he urges us to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God in the assurance that all the other things we need will be given to us. The truth is we often have things backwards. We seek the things that Jesus says God already knows we need and ignore the things that Jesus tells us will make us the sons and daughters of God.
In the end we’re the ones who lose. Our parish life becomes an endless series of meetings and projects about keeping the building open rather than the Spirit filled adventure of impacting the world and transforming ourselves into what God would have us be. Hands and hearts that God could use for doing great things grow idle or occupied with the trivial and fall into a kind of spiritual listlessness. Faith turns into formalities.
There’s better. There’s more. The question, I suppose, is to what extent we let Jesus be Lord in his own church.