Import jQuery

I cancelled everything: How our busy lives are subtracting from faithfulness

A Christian minister, frustrated with lack of interest and attendance, cancels all weekday services and programs. Amusing, yet brutally honest:

  (hat tip: Leman)

Anyone in ministry can relate to this. I've been involved with a Hebrew Roots congregation for a few years now, and I've seen this first hand: Yeshua's disciples are busy doing things unrelated to discipleship. So busy, in fact, they have no time for study, prayer, meeting together.

Toward this point, Dr. Schiffman relates a story and offers poignant, piercing insight:

We host a Chavurah [fellowship] in our home on Shabbat afternoons. When people come, it’s always a blessing and encouragement. Their commitment encourages everyone else who comes. When people blow it off and give excuses why they didn’t come, we always understand, but it sends a message that they didn’t value the gathering enough to show up.

One afternoon, we were preparing for the upcoming Chavurah meeting after a week when only one couple showed up. My wife expressed that this was a lot of work if no one was coming. I encouraged her to do this as service to God and not to worry. That Shabbat, eight people showed up, and the one following that, we had almost 20. People showing up was a tremendous boost, and made our service for HaShem more of a blessing. Diligence means being there. Sending regrets only produces regret. For this reason, I alway make it a point to visit people in the hospital, and go to weddings, Bar Mitzvot, and funerals. It lets people know I care and that I value them. If you don’t really care, you don’t show up. It’s a ministry of presence.”

That is, if you are too busy for community with Yeshua's disciples, you're making a subconscious prioritization; prioritizing your busy life ahead of Messiah service.

Can't make Bible study because you're too busy with work? That means you're valuing work over study.

Can't fellowship with others because it's a 45 minute drive? That means you're valuing your time over fellowship.

Can’t go to service because you’re too busy? You’re valuing the things you’re busy with more than services.

I understand these problems. I have them myself: For the whole month of February, 2012, I've been working 50-60 hour weeks per request of my employer. Here's what my day looks like:
  • Get up at 7:30am, shower.
  • Get my 3 year old daughter breakfast, maybe change her diaper and get her out of pajamas and put an outfit on her.
  • Get my 12 year old son into the car and drive him to school.
  • Drop off my son and drive to work. 45 minute drive without traffic, 1 hour with traffic.
  • Get to work around 9am.
  • Work for 8-12 hours.
  • Leave work between 6pm-9pm.
  • Drive home (45min-1hr).
  • Get home between 7pm-10pm.
  • Spend a little time with the kids if they’re still awake. Put them to bed.
  • Crash+veg+zonk out on the couch, totally exhausted.

And that’s just what my day looks like. When all that’s done, I’m busy with more stuff at night:

  • Mondays I work on personal software projects like Chavah, MessianicChords, and BrachaBits (coming soon!).
  • Tuesdays I pick out music and practice songs on the guitar for the upcoming Shabbat service.
  • Wednesdays I choose to get out of the house and exercise. I play men’s basketball. Exercise is important, because my job doesn’t involve physical labor. It’s a matter of health and state of mind.
  • Thursdays is arrange and print music sheets and lyrics for the congregation
  • Friday, of course, is Erev Shabbat. It’s when our congregation holds services. So I’m out Friday night.
  • Saturday, then, is Shabbat. Thank God for Shabbat. I sleep in as late as possible; after all, shabbat’s foremost commandment is rest. After a exceedingly busy week, rest (and sleep!) is exactly what I need. I do zero on Shabbat. Saturday night is busy, however, as my wife volunteers at an animal rescue, so I’m responsible to watch the kids. We usually do fun stuff like walks or games, though, so it’s not bad.
  • Sunday, I try to clean up the kitchen, spend some time with the kids, and relax.

Doing anything outside of this means taking away from what little, precious free time I have on the weekend. So if you want me to do something, meet with people, go to some service, it’s a hard sell.

I totally understand why people don’t go to service.

But at least I’m not spurring service; 3 nights of my week are spent doing service. I choose to do those things for service to the Lord, and for righteousness growth in my own life.

But for some, service has been completely eliminated from their lives. I can see how it happens. Replaced it with any the other things vying for your precious time.

The world has evolved, such that many occupations today are non-physical. Lot of white collar jobs in the US. You’d think that’d mean we’d have more free time. But in reality, we’re just busier with other stuff. Caught up with work, and projects, and family, and outings, and other stuff that eats our time.

Let’s be honest, here, let’s not lie to ourselves, let’s be real: if you’re not making time for service to the Lord – prayer, going to services, or just meeting with other believers – then you’re valuing your work, projects, whatever, over that service to the Lord. You’re choosing those things over God.

I don’t blame the Christian minister for cancelling everything. Too many people have scheduled themselves out of availability. They have no time for God.


  1. I see great minds think alike, although it is very interesting to me how this extremely compelling video has said different things to different people.

  2. Judah,

    This is a very important post. Neglecting the fellowship of the "brethren" leads to hurt feelings and worse. We're supposed to be having open-door Shabbat dinners and Chavurah groups, etc. The original Believers used to meet daily from house to house!

    I love being back in a bigger city. I'm fortunate to have Israeli friends here. They really appreciate fellowship. And I've been convicted because they are more into fellowship than me (and I'm a Believer!).



    1. Thanks, Peter. Have a good (total complete rest) shabbat. :-)

  3. OK, now for an alternative view:

    On the flip (cynical) side, many folks simply burn out doing the "service" stuff. Unlike commonly assumed, we don't have LESS time in the modern world - we have MORE time for service and leisure than ever, we go out, we surf the web, we watch TV, i.e. we certainly more time than our ancestors who had to work in an agricultural society (of say, first century Israel or anywhere else in the ancient world) from morning to dusk (and often through the night), prepare their own food from scratch, etc. The modern religious organizations are structured like businesses and they work to earn "more members". Their products for sale are classes coming out of you know what, meetings upon meetings, worship nights, nights for this, guest speaker for that, trips, outings, fund-raisers, picnics...

    Our service lives have come to reflect the busyness of our work lives. We serve others at the expense of building up our own marriages. We teach at the expense of learning. We help raise other people's children in Sunday schools while having little time to sit down and read a book with our own (and then we wonder what went wrong?!).

    Sometimes one needs to step back...

    1. Yeah, but how many people have zero time for even a single service once a week?

      Even fewer have time for prayer, even if it's by themselves.

      You're right about this: as we're not out tending the fields, we do have more time available than in past generations. It's just that we fill that time with other stuff. That's why I said, choosing that other stuff means you're implicitly valuing that other stuff over service to God. If this leaves you zero time for service, your life is not in order.

  4. Gene said: The modern religious organizations are structured like businesses and they work to earn "more members". Their products for sale are classes coming out of you know what, meetings upon meetings, worship nights, nights for this, guest speaker for that, trips, outings, fund-raisers, picnics...

    That reminds me of something I thought of the first time I saw the video. Today, a lot of people see religion as something they "add on" to their regular lives, kind of like a module or an accessory. It's not really a vital part of their lives and it certainly isn't a fully integrated thread running through their lives (I'm generalizing of course, and I'm sure there are plenty of folks whose faith is fully integrated).

    In the first century, one's religion (pagan religion at any rate) was also part of their business and recreational life. Religion was inescapable and it was unthinkable to consider religions and "gods" as optional components. Today, many people choose a religion or religious participation the way they choose options on a car they're buying.

    I think we'd have more time for religion if our faith were an inescapable and fully integrated aspect of living day in and day out.

  5. We are all posses a western Hellenistic mindset, where we read and write creeds but unwilling to live them.

    Shabbat Shalom.

  6. It sounds like this poor woman could use a Sabbath rest!

    Isn't it amazing the difference between the world religions (of which I was a part of as a ministry team for years) has to work SO HARD!

    The two best things that happened to me was -- I became an alocholic and took a break from formal ministry and took time to learn and heal with a group of drunks who had more answers than I ever found in any seminary books! There's something to be said for becoming humble and teachable! Then as a result of this experience I was able to be set free from my bondage to what I had been taught and what I thought was expected of me and what I was taught about the Bible and was able to go back and learn it all over again from the Hebraic perspecive. I was able to move into learning about Shabbat and the festivals and feasts of the Lord and have found a deeper more real experience in serving the Lord than I ever could have imagined while I was confined to "church ministry."

  7. Judah, God is blessing you and your ministry. You are working very hard with a job and a family and a ministry. I am so thankful for the Sabbath rest and glad you are able to take that time to regroup. God is on his throne! It is not the amount of people who are touched by your ministry -- but the profound work that is being done in the lives of each and every one of them.

  8. It sounds like she could start making money from shirts that say:

    "Church, been there, done that, got the t-shirt"

    lol :P


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