Fishing on a Sunday Morning

This past weekend my mom was in town for a belated celebration of her birthday. In lieu of going to Disney we packed up the cars and headed to fish were there is more action, no lines, and a whole lot less money. On Saturday we fished on the Old Skyway bridge and caught about a dozen fish or more between all of us. No big ones, but fish just the same. We came home, beat from the sun, cleaned up and headed out to a dockside restaurant to celebrate my mom. 

Sundays in the Smith home are so interesting during this church planting journey. A few factors play into this. #1 We aren’t meeting as Good Life Church yet, so for the first time in a long time I don’t “have” to be anywhere on Sunday. #2 We are experiencing the same thing almost every family has described to me before about Sunday mornings… stress, running late, getting lost on the way to church, arguing in the car as the family pulls up to the service, etc. ( We never experienced this before because I was always at church long before the family was out of bed) #3 We miss Pinelake so much we have played hooky a handful of times and just watched online. #4 We have had company on so many Sundays, sometimes we just skip out totally. This Sunday was one of those…

So instead of going to church we went fishing. Something just feels so wrong about it, I know, but of course, Jesus had some lessons I don’t think I would have learned had I been in a service. At around 10am we were packed, two car loads, and headed to the Ringling Causeway in downtown Sarasota. The fishing pier is before you cross the bridge and it is easy to miss if you aren’t familiar. So in other words, I missed the turn. Missing a turn on a bridge is never good. So, with my mom and Tom following behind, I crossed over the bridge simply to make a u-turn to go back over it again. What seemed to be an insignificant and wasted few minutes, contained within it an image that still has me thinking and praying this morning… people. People everywhere. At least a hundred people out for a morning walk, a run, or just strolling with the dog all along the causeway, and I got to see it twice. Young people, old people, and the average American family. Married with 2.5 kids and a dog. “What do you see?”, I heard Jesus whisper. “A lot of people, a lot of people skipping out on church”, I replied. Maybe this isn’t revelation to a lot of you reading this but to a guy who has spent almost his entire professional life in ministry I have rarely seen a Sunday morning outside the four walls of my local church. As a pastor, Sundays are days of birthing the vision of a hard week of planning and preparation. Sundays are about expressing what it is God has told you to a group of people who have come to hear. It is about singing songs together, raising hands, responding to God. Sunday mornings are intense, exciting, emotional and exhausting. Sunday mornings have never been a “walk on the causeway” for me. As my eyes took in the beauty of the morning sun reflecting against the water, and the hundreds of people who were out and about I heard another whisper. “Why do you think they aren’t in a local church right now?” Answers flooded my mind. A spectrum of excuses flooded, but one raised to the top and has haunted me over the last 24 hours, “They don’t value the church experience”. You see, what I saw yesterday on the causeway weren’t bad people. They weren’t “those people”, whatever that means. They were people just like my family. Dads and Moms who love their kids, who take care of themselves, who love their community and love the fact they live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. They are people who just haven’t found the local church experience to be that much of an experience at all. Who would blame them, the “smart lighting” of some of our best progressive worship environments and the moving backgrounds of our worship slides don’t even hold a candle to the beauty one can see by spending the morning watching the actual sun connect to the crystal clear waters of the ocean. So why should they come to church?

In only 20 days from today, Good Life Church will hold its very first preview service on October 21st, 2012 at 10:30am. We will be meeting at Tara Elementary school and the worship will be in a cafetorium. We are gonna have the place spotless, some fresh donuts and coffee to enjoy and I promise you, some of the best music you have ever heard. I am gonna preach a message of hope and do it full of grace and full of truth. We are gonna have clean and safe environments for the children and we are even gonna have a bounce house. As hard as we try, I can’t promise you that we can create an image or enviroment that can compete with what you will see if you skip out and head to the causeway or one of our local beaches. Nor do I believe that is my role or my calling. You see as I have processed over the last day on this question, “Why should they come to church?”, the answer isn’t about the immaculate and stimulating environment that the Good Life team can create out of a local school cafetorium. The answer rather is something so much deeper. What I can promise to anyone and everyone who makes the choice to skip out on the causeway run, or the morning beach stroll, or whatever it is they typically do on Sunday morning to come on October 21st, is two distinct things. 1. I promise that in the time you spend with us you will hear the “good news” of Jesus Christ. In a world that continues to bombard us with bad news I believe that Jesus has offered us a message of hope that is more beautiful than anything we can see or experience with our 5 senses. 2. I promise that you will get all of us. By that, I mean that we are not offering ourselves for an hour a week, or offering ourselves as performers for your entertainment. Rather we as a group of people are offering our lives to you, to share experiences, good and bad, to walk through life together, to laugh together, cry together and experience the “community” we all long for. In short we are offering you the “good news and our lives as well.” That is what God stirred in my heart a long time ago and that is why we are here today…

And hey, you can always go for a stroll on the causeway or to the beach afterward, the service will end by noon.

Looking forward to seeing you there. Tara Elementary School 6950 Linger Lodge Rd E. Bradenton, FL 34203. 10:30am Bring all the peeps.


About goodlifefl

Loving People Enough to Share the Gospel and Life 1 Thess. 2:8 View all posts by goodlifefl

3 responses to “Fishing on a Sunday Morning

  • Tyler Slay

    I really enjoyed reading this Jason. “They were people just like my family. Dads and Moms who love their kids, who take care of themselves, who love their community and love the fact they live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. They are people who just haven’t found the local church experience to be that much of an experience at all.” I think that’s something I/we struggle to fully accept here in communities where it’s so cultural to be in a church building on Sundays. These folks aren’t any different than us, but they just haven’t bought in yet. They need to be loved and engaged. I’ll be praying for you guys.

  • Dorothy

    we are so excited for you, and your family

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