I just read an article listing 10 signs you are attending a great church.
Bless that publisher. What a novel idea.
Most articles I’ve seen lately offer 83 ways the church is screwing up.
Churches are too cultural – you know, they look too much like the world by using technology and lights and sound and computers and striving for an excellent presentation of the gospel. Pretty soon it will be a Disney production. Heaven help the folks who can’t just meet in a park.
The young people are leaving! The young people are leaving! – by land, by sea; all those dad-gum millennials are gravitating to steeple churches with pews showing us how messed up the church is. Because it is truly unprecedented to have young people challenging the system of their parents. I guess no one has ever done that in history. Weird. Young people are still coming in droves where I worship and showing great leadership skills.
Churches are trying too hard to be relevant – by engaging the culture, they are looking too much like the folks around them. They are too consumer minded; wasting all that money on air-conditioning and plastic cups. Pretty soon we won’t be able to tell a church from…a coffeeshop or a university or something.
The church is just too flippin’ big – if we were really making a difference, we could fit everyone in our community around the kitchen table. And if no one ever asks to join us, I guess that indicates spiritual depth and an unwillingness to compromise. Because everyone coming to listen to an engaging preacher might like him too much and give him the big head. And then he might write a book and get famous and that’s when we will know he didn’t really love Jesus.
This kind of reading is much more fun, I suppose. Don’t get me wrong, I think we should always weigh what we experience in a church community against what we read in the Bible and understand from the Holy Spirit. But we like to publish exposés. The drama is just too inviting.
Is it just me or has it always been trendy to criticize the church?
Or anything really. If we can point out all the weaknesses or potential pitfalls of something, then we elevate ourselves by displaying our intellectual prowess. And if we possess the articulation to couple that with sarcastic, witty, and pithy sentiments (complete with oxford commas), we might even get published.
I don’t know about you but I am tired of it. TIRED of it.
This applies to our current political debate as well. My newsfeed is filled with folks who can’t tell me one single thing they are for. If they support something; shoot, anything, have a original idea, or a positive direction we should go as a country, etc…I certainly can’t figure it out. Rather their posts and tweets are nothing but a tirade against their least favorite candidate and by extension anyone who dares to vote for such monsters. Basically, I have been threatened by several of my own social media acquaintances that I should consider myself “unfriended” if I should dane to vote for their particular nemesis. And if I have any character at all, I will take the initiative by “unfriending” them, because they are very proud to claim they don’t know “anyone” with an opposing view whom they respect. Well, I wasn’t really planning to post a pic inside my voting booth next fall, (is that even legal?) but I guess if they want to follow me in there and have a go at judging me, then have at it.
I am pretty sure I know, love, admire, and appreciate folks who see things differently than me.
I grew up in a monochromatic world where we lived in community with folks who looked and believed like us, complete with a dress code. And I’m kind of done with that. Thankfully, they introduced me to Jesus and I had a father who exhibited revolutionary tolerance for “others” showing me how to love those who don’t see the world like me. I say tolerance rather than acceptance to explain that we didn’t lose our beliefs by engaging those on the other side of the fence or aisle or whatever. In fact I learned to think critically; to actually understand, and evaluate where my own faith and beliefs were grounded. Where my faith was shallow and unfounded, it showed quickly, forcing me to go deeper.
This kind of engagement of “others” is what Jesus did and he was challenged for it.
“You are hanging with the wrong people, drinking the wrong drink, loving the wrong race.” And yet Jesus didn’t compromise any part his ministry to do it. And those who were with him didn’t fall away in poor association either. They learned to imitate his love for the lost.
I think it is high time we encourage each other in our ministries.
If you are making disciples, teaching people about Jesus, baptizing new believers and loving the lost, then bless you and your efforts. I really don’t care where you meet, how you sing, or what your cultural preference and expression is. Certainly, I have my ideas about what methods are effective in my mission field, but I will not waste my time fussing at you, especially if you are producing fruit.
I know it is easier to criticize than it is to celebrate what God is doing in our midst.
But I wonder what God thinks about that.
- Do you have godly leaders who proclaim the word clearly?
- Is everyone encouraged to use their spiritual gifts and live out their faith?
- Is the church engaged in community actively serving and inviting the lost?
- Is there a strong system of discipleship and small groups?
- Are people surrendering their lives to Jesus?
Then let’s celebrate that and throw our weight behind it.
On Easter Sunday our staff met together to pray for all the services ahead of us and we were thinking of all the extra hours we logged on Easter week to be ready. I was suddenly struck by the thought of every other church in town. I bet their pastors and staff also put in extra blood, sweat, and tears preparing for the highest and holiest holiday in Christendom. I found myself praying that their efforts as well as ours would be magnified and that God would draw people to himself in all these different places and communities.
I hope you are in a great church. If not, get in one. There are plenty out there.