Despite all my seminary training, much of what I have learned about ministry comes from life circumstances. One of my teachers, believe it or not, is my dog.
I will give you a little background on my dog. Halo is a black labrador retriever. He came to us as a service dog to support our son who has autism. He has done a fantastic job with Logan. However, Logan is now living in a group home and Halo is retired from his service dog activities. With Logan not living here, Halo is primarily attached to me. He follows me around like… well, like a a puppy dog. He hates when I go anywhere without him.
From time to time I sleep on the couch. No not because of fights with my wife. It is usually so I’m more aware when Logan stays over for a visit or on occasion because of my loud snoring.
Now we have some very comfortable couches in our family room downstairs. Although Halo is not allowed on the couches in our living room, he is allowed to sleep on the downstairs couches and that is where he spends most nights.
I say “most” because when I do sleep on the couch upstairs, Halo will give up his comfortable couch downstairs to sleep on the hard floor beside my couch. Halo chooses presence with me over personal comfort. Every time.
Presence over comfort.
There is a lesson for churches in the actions of my dog. There will always be a temptation to seek comfort. Put money aside for financial comfort, design ministries for congregational comfort, preaching messages that make people comfortable.
But the biblical model for ministry is not comfort. It is presence. It is about spending time with God and spending time with our community. It is about presence.
My dog is willing to sacrifice comfort for the sake of being present with me. Will we as a church be willing to sacrifice our comfort to be present with God and our community?