“What If…?”

What IfDo you remember playing the “What If” game? I actually love this game…even now. It is a great way to start conversations, break the ice, incite thought and imagination, challenge the status quo or just irritate the heck out of someone. Sounds like fun, right?

Even Paul played the “What If” game in the book of Romans. Consider these passages in Romans 3:3-4 & 9:22-24 respectively:

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Here’s the great thing about the “What If” game…most of the “What If” scenarios will never come to pass. The main purpose and intent of the process is to get people to think outside their little myopic, self serving, content and complacent bubble. We get comfortable in the “status quo”. Sometimes we even get comfortable in the things we want so desperately to change, but we either won’t or are unwilling to take the necessary actions to be or make the change we want to experience.

Therefore, the “What If” process is to incite a response to action. The first action is to consider the investment and sacrifice others make to insure our needs are met, our comfort is achieved, and position us with the most opportunities and possibilities for success. The second is to reflect on how we are either part of the problems or solutions; or better stated am “am I consumer or producer”? Finally, what is the proper response for each of us at an individual, team or corporate level to contribute to everything we benefit from?

The “What If” game is great to play at home with your spouse and children, at work with your employees, peers and boss, and especially at church with your congregation. Since this is a “Pastor’s Pen” article, I’ll leave the first two items for another time. For the next few moments we have left, let’s play the “What If” game, local church style.

Ever wonder who cleans the bathrooms, takes care of the grounds, prints the bulletins, cares for the children, pays the bills, vacuums the sanctuary, straightens the chairs, restocks the paper supplies, runs the sound, presentations or burns the CD’s, manages the website, sets up and tears down the fellowship hall or multi-purpose rooms, gets the pastor’s water, and the list goes on and on. In many medium to large churches, there may be some paid staff who take care of much of this; however, volunteers cover the majority. Most volunteers take time out of their evening family time, weekend time off and invest much of their own resources without ever expecting to be reimbursed. This is a very different story in smaller churches. The pastor, and maybe one other person who has been a permanent fixture in the church for a long time cover the majority of the above list.

Consider, if you will, “WHAT IF” this Sunday when you arrived at church there was no parking attendant, the parking lot was full of trash and debris, the church sign hadn’t been updated since the last major event, the windows were dirty, the chairs or pews were misaligned, cobwebs cascaded across the light fixtures, the last 2 months bulletins were stacked up in the seat trays in front of you, the bathrooms were disgusting, the fellowship hall still had food from the last fellowship on the floor, the trash in the cans were overflowing, the musicians were unprepared, there was no one to run the presentations or sound, there were no paper towels or toilet paper on the rolls, the church carpet and floors were dirty, and here’s the best one, the pastor decides he didn’t feel like coming to church and is a no show?

We often take for granted everything required to make a church function, a worship service meaningful and especially the pastor’s investment and sacrifice to lead a gathering of people. The majority of church attenders really don’t have the same level of commitment to Christ, the mission, the community or the church as the pastor does. “What If” all of this was gone this Sunday?

Maybe the better question is…”What If’ we called ourselves to action and responded to the needs of the community, the church and the pastor? “What If” instead of overlooking, passing by and waiting for someone else to respond to the needs, we responded? “What If” we committed, loved and invested to the same level our pastor does? “What If” this Sunday, the pastor showed up and absolutely everything was taken care of and all he had to do was be with his family, preach the message, greet the guest and fellowship with all the Christ followers and believers who stepped up to “BE THE CHURCH”.


James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”