Chew on this:
In his wisdom, God has crafted a life for us that does not careen from huge, consequential moment to huge, consequential moments. In fact, if you examine your life, you will see that you have actually had few of those moments. You can probably name only two or three life-changing situations you have lived through. We are all the same; the character and quality of your life is forged in little moments. Every day we lay little bricks on the foundation of what our life will be. (Tripp, What Did You Expect?, 58)
This is, in my mind, one of the most helpful chapter’s of Paul Tripp’s book on marriage. Here he is making the argument that we must develop a “little-moment” approach to our marriages. And I think he is right. He goes on to say, “things in a marriage go bad progressively. Things become sweet and beautiful progressively.”
As I was thinking through the chapter I just read, getting ready for a counseling appointment, and thinking through how this applies to my own marriage, I decided to open some mail. One of the letters I received was from one of those super cool conferences that I absolutely MUST attend. Having just read that paragraph from Tripp a particular statement on that flier stood out to me: An Experience that will CHANGE YOUR CHURCH.
Why do we do this?
Given the rhythms of church life here in America, I think we are trained to think of church as moving from one big moment to the next. We move from Sunday to Sunday and Wednesday to Wednesday, with each one being a monumental moment. Think about the way we often advertise our Sunday morning gatherings. We don’t want anyone to miss out on the life-changing encounter with God….every single Sunday.
We are trained to think in big moments. We become wired to think that the way people grow, and churches grow, and pastors are encouraged, and disciples are trained, is by moving from monumental encounter to monumental encounter.
But what if that isn’t how God usually works? What if what Tripp says about marriage is also true of our church and our ministry? What if the reason why so many marriages are difficult for pastors is that we’ve been trained to think in cataclysms when our marriages thrive on the commonplace? Should we not put into the life of our church daily rhythms similar to that which should be in our marriages?
What would this look like in practice?
In What Did You Expect?, Tripp gives six commitments that mark a day by day marriage. I wonder if these couldn’t be revamped a bit and put into the DNA of our local churches.
- COMMITMENT #1: We will give ourselves to a regular lifestyle of confession and forgiveness.
- COMMITMENT #2: We will make growth and change our daily agenda.
- COMMITMENT #3: We will work together to build a sturdy bond of trust.
- COMMITMENT #4: We will commit to building a relationship of love.
- COMMITMENT #5: We will deal with our differences with appreciation and grace.
- COMMITMENT #6: We will work to protect our marriage.
As I read through the book of Acts what I see is something similar. What we read in Acts 2:42-47 looks an awful lot like having a day by day commitment to one another. This is why things like life groups (or small groups) is, I believe, vital to the health of a local church. It creates in us a day by day way of thinking about life together and less about just gathering with a group of like-minded people once or twice per week.
Marriages are built brick by brick, day by day, tiny moment by tiny moment. And I’m convinced that churches are the same way. What would it look like for us to adopt this way of thinking in our local church? What would change?