I was a little surprised when the doctor asked why I wanted an annual physical. I told him that it is covered by my insurance, and that it is recommended. The truth is that I was about eight months over-due for my “annual” physical. I was due for the physical about the time that we were moving from Sierra Vista to Sahuarita. I was too busy to be very concerned at the time, and it made sense to me to wait until we were re-established in Sahuarita (we lived here once before). It made sense, but I was very slow in finding a doctor and getting an appointment. My previous Sahuarita doctor moved years ago, which is what finally forced me to move to a doctor in Sierra Vista. This time what forced me was that I was running out of my medicines, and I needed new prescriptions. I also have some issues that I wanted to talk to a doctor about.
It is a stretch to say that I “wanted” a physical. It is more accurate to say that I knew that I “needed” a physical. Going to the doctor is not an enjoyable experience for me. The physical includes some indignities (yes, there are even indignities that guys experience), and I knew that it would initiate additional tests. I wasn’t disappointed. This week I get to fast so that I can have some blood tests, and I’m anticipating a bone density scan in addition to a trip to the urologist. It is quite possible that the urologist will have some tests of their own that they will want to run.
So, why do people go to a doctor? For me, I’m very aware that the length and quality of my life is, to a great degree, tied to how my body is doing. Although I sometimes think that I was given a refurbished model, this is the only body that I have. I want people in my corner who understand how bodies work. I have learned from experience that it is better to already have a doctor before something major goes wrong. It is very difficult to get an emergency appointment without already being a patient.
The one real surprise that I received was an e-mail survey asking about my experience. I don’t recall this ever happening before. Included in the survey were questions about how likely I was to recommend this practice to my family and friends. They also had specific questions about my experience. This was done by a private company, and I could choose if I wanted to include my name. I’m really impressed that they wanted to know about my experience!
Going to the doctor started me thinking (again) about why do people visit churches? What are they looking for? Do they keep searching until they find what they are seeking, or do most of them give up first? In my first year as a Superintendent, not a single one of my churches has complained about growing too fast! The most frequent question that I’m asked is “What do we need to do to bring new people into our church?” The first thing that we need to ask ourselves could be “Why do we want people to join our church?”
I’m convinced that if our motivation for people to join our church is because we fear for the survival of our church, we are in trouble. We need to be motivated by a deep love for people that is in response to God’s deep love for us. Have we taken the time to find out the challenges and struggles that people are facing? Are we willing to build new relationships? Are we risking going out into our communities, or are we waiting for people to come to our church buildings? Are we asking “why?” if they come once and we don’t see them again? Do we understand the value of what we offer in our Christian faith and in our church families?
Our physical well-being is certainly important. What is often-times misunderstood, and underestimated, though, is the difference that our spiritual well-being makes. Our Christian faith gives us a new perspective: hope, peace, love, strength, wisdom, and purpose (to start the list). Together, God calls us to be world changers! I believe that this can be appealing to a lot of people! Are we communicating these possibilities to people? Just teaching people how not to worry can be a life-changer!
Your brother on the journey, Mark
A further thought: There is a saying attributed to John Wesley that I keep in my bedroom (yes, I’m a United Methodist nerd). I think that if our churches let this saying drive our efforts and vision, we will find that we are making a tremendous difference in the lives of others—and people will want to join us! The saying is: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”