Yesterday we thought about the spaces in which we work – both office and study. One of the key issues that I think we need to face in this generation, even more than ever before, is the issue of noise. In a world filled with productivity gurus, we as preachers need to be more than productive.
1. It takes more than productivity to produce a profound ministry. It is great to have such quick and easy access to information. We can access so much online, some of it worth the minimal effort we put in. We can order books and have them delivered next day (at least some of us can). We can use software on our computers that instantly parses verbs, searches for the lexical root and finds all instances of whatever in wherever. We are so blessed. But profound ministry is not just about access to information. It isn’t even just about knowing what to do with it. We have educational opportunities like never before. But it takes more than that. Profound ministry also requires something that has become ever more difficult to find. You can’t buy it online and you can’t use software to get there. It is that old fashioned notion of spending time with the Lord, away from all the noise.
2. Noise may be the biggest threat to a substantial ministry. Noise takes many forms. It can be the ping of arriving emails, the tyranny of the urgent text message, the variable usefulness of social media updates streaming our way, the fascination of online bunny trails, the old fashioned but ever present junk mail, not to mention the important stuff of family life, church needs and a far more connected realm of extended friendships. Some of this is good. Too much of all this and you have a recipe for living in permanent noise. I suspect it is worse now than when sunset meant reading by candlelight, conversation with those immediately present and hours of quiet to spend with God.
3. A noisy world means we must be proactive in pursing “sunset.” The old idea of a prayer closet, an undistracted place for meeting with the Lord, shouldn’t be an old idea. I have had some great times of prayer while driving, but also easily fill that time with noise. I always find I pray better walking or pacing, but so easily fail to make the most of such simple insight. How can you be proactive in pursuing “sunset” – a time when the noise grows distant and you can pursue and enjoy intimacy with the Almighty? I fear that if we don’t do something, the profound ministry of those truly close to God might become a relic of history.