Thursday, August 25, 2011

WNR... What those letters mean to me.

I grew up going to church on Wednesday Nights. Here is a rundown of my Wednesday Night activities...

When I was a kid I went to a program called"Caravan" which is basically like a church version of Boy Scouts. We would earn badges and all that. I always had soccer games on Saturday, so I never got to go to the camp-outs, not that I minded. My most notorious Caravan moment happened at the end of the year banquet. I set my napkin on fire by holding it above the table candle. Seriously, who puts candles on a 9 year old boy's table. Sheesh...

Teen Years
I graduated to youth group. During my teen years we would be divided onto teams and earn points for various things. Bringing a bible, memorizing a verse, inviting a friend, winning a game. It was a season long ordeal with the winning team getting a free trip of some sort. There was usually music with lots of corny motions that I never wanted to participate in.

Youth Pastor Days
After college, I was hired as a youth pastor and so I spent my life gearing up towards the youth service ever Wednesday night. I did everything I could to get as many kids to come to the church so that I could tell them about Jesus. If you wanted to be a good Christian, you had to be at church on Wednesday nights. Nevermind that many of the kids that came every week ended up going off to college only to walk away from the church and quite possibly their faith. I am no judge of that, but suffice to say that their lives did not reflect Christ in any way, shape, or form.

So what do I do with my Wednesday nights these days? Do I spend them gathering people at the church I pastor? Nope! (nothing against churches that do). I spend my Wednesdays at the WNR. See, the WNR is the Wednesday Night Ride is a local mountain bike ride that happens like clockwork on Wednesday evenings during the late Spring and Summer months. We gather and ride in various groups ranging from beginner to beginner-mediate, intermediate, and fast. I rode in the fast group for the first time last night and those boys put a hurtin' on me.

It is a lot of fun and I have gotten to know quite a variety of people. Some of them cuss like sailors and talk about sex like it is a commodity. Most are really nice and laid back, but many of them would never consider coming to church at all.

Occasionally a smaller group of riders will go to a local restaurant and hang-out a bit longer. I haven't been able to do this very often, but my hope is to eat with them on a more regular basis. The WNR is a chance to get outside my church bubble and interact with folks who I wouldnever know aside from our common love of ripping up trails on mountain bikes.

I have no motive other than to reflect the love of Christ as I get to know these people. My hope is that the secret gets out that I am a pastor and they will remember that when a crisis occurs in their life and they are seeking guidance or prayer. I won't be telling people about Jesus every time we have to pull over to fix a flat, but also won't shy away from an opportunity to talk of the difference God has made in my life. I am trusting that God will provide the right conversation at the right time, I am not going to force it. This is about truly caring for people with no strings attached.

Thanks to the WNR, I look forward to Wednesdays more than ever before. I have to find ways to remind myself that the church is not a building, I (we) are God's church and we are at our best when we are pursuing relationships with people who know very little of our God.

p.s. I do meet with a group of people on another night of the week to strengthen our relationship with each other and also with God and there is usually good food involved.

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