three things people want...but don't admit
No question about it...people have opinions in our churches, don't they? They will tell you quickly what they like and don't like, what they want and don't want. But to do ministry on a serious and impactful level, we have to realize that there are things people secretly want and need but don't usually say out loud. Here are three:
#1- I want you to ask me to reflect upon my life. As much as they might look like they are chafing when it happens, they are so busy and stressed that people are taking less and less time to reflect on their lives. But they want to. So we can provide those moments for them. Regularly asking them to imagine their lives 5 years in the future if nothing changes, how they would like their epitaph to read, what kind of story they believe they are writing with their life, what they would like for people to be discussing at their visitation, or even how they want to feel a year from now are important questions and something they really desire. Not many other people are asking them those questions.
#2- I want you to challenge me. Yes, there is a part of most people that is looking for the easiest and least demanding path, but inside all of us is a desire to live a life of significance and make a difference in some way. Inherently, we know that it doesn't come cheaply or easily. Value and importance are perceived in proportion to the level of challenge.
#3- I want boundaries. Set aside the cultural encouragement to just do what we want and do what feels good, there is an increasing anxiety about living in a culture where boundaries are disappearing. With the social media age, people are losing privacy and having to learn about consequences of sharing information indiscriminately. People are tired of folks acting out at church. Parents deplore the lack of respect among young people in terms of how they talk and behave. Many are growing up in homes where appropriate boundaries, both physical and emotional, are not respected and they become adults who don't feel safe. The church has the chance to teach boundaries, respect them, and model them for people not just for the sake of the church, but for society as a whole.
This is part of the reason that our ministry isn't based on taking a vote or just asking people what they want. What they NEED is often unexpressed or unrecognized. So we need to know what it is they need and then give it to them, regardless if they ask. They'll be grateful.