All in From Pew to Pulpit
If the church should be the most creative place on earth then why are churches just copying each other? We have a severe insecurity when it comes to our "worship" performance. Does this honor God?
Sometimes we need an affirmation that in all our brokenness which gives God every rational reason to give up on us, he does not. Even if we want him to, he does not. Pierce Pettis' song "God Believes in You" is just what I needed.
About a month ago a friend of mine asked me to give him my opinion about a blog post entitled "12 Reasons Millennials Are OVER Church" by Sam Eaton. Well, I put it off until I all but forgot to get back to him so I decided to write him a whole blog post about what I think of it. Here is my response and review:
Sin is usually described in terms of the one committing the sin. This is especially true in Churches whose complete communication of the Gospel is focused on what Jesus has done for you. It is hyper-individualistic at best, egotistic at worst and incomplete altogether.
In my darkest moments, I can think of every reason why I don't belong. Josh is brilliant in pretty much every way. He is so knowledgeable. He knows how to “be a pastor.” Sarah is so talented with web design and music. Kristal is very interested in the sciences and asks the hard questions. Then there’s me…
I love to read. My team makes fun of me for how often I reference a book that inspires me. That's ok. I love annoying them by dropping some literary knowledge. It makes them better people...or at least that is what I want to happen. Here are the 3 best books I have read this year.
"God has given something special for you, but I can't' give it to you until you're ready."
These words boil my blood. I can understand how maniacal televangelists get away with crap on television - we are used aggrandized claims coming from the marketing gurus on the boob tube. We are used to some promises not being fulfilled because we have all bought something that was too good to be true and the whole truth is that it wasn't any good at all. We are used to being disappointed by what we see on TV.
But what are we, as Christians, supposed to do?
Could we be reducing our precious faith to an entertainment addiction?
Just because Netflix gives us the power to salaciously select anything to satiate our craving does that mean we need to approach every facet of our life with a search for thrills and chills?
The need to "feel something" is a dangerous seductress.
She woos us and beguiles us into believing that if we are not moved to the emotion we have not had a meaningful spiritual experience.
But following the trail from one spiritual mountain top to the next can be easily likened to a heroine junky looking for his next fix or a sex addict yearning for her next orgasm.
Since this is our "off" week between series and we can write off topic, I wasn't quite sure what to write about at first. Then I decided why not write about something that I'm struggling with because maybe someone else is struggling with it too. Tithing sucks.
Churches have bought into the hype-machine. They believe that they have to hype everything up to get people to be involved. Every Bible study is the greatest, best teaching ever. Every new preaching series is the series that will change your life forever so you better not miss it. Yet, when we get there it's the sermon he preached 3 years ago with the same stories and a different name. We tell people that if they know God their lives will change forever but they don't think that we have ever changed.
Alberti used mathematics and empirical science to evenly divide a canvas in such a way that a painting to could look real. The Church has many informants to their modus operandi. They range from the extreme pragmatic to the rote patterns of the past. Here are just a few:
Happiness, in a religious context, can get pretty tricky to try to explain. I know plenty of Christians who attend a church service, partake in a redeemed rock concert, get pumped up by a motivational speaker, and then ride the adrenaline wave to their Sunday afternoon nap. That may count as a euphoric high, but it falls greatly short of the happiness described by the Psalmist when he says that the Lord has anointed lovers of righteousness with the oil of gladness. Gladness is not a worship-high. It is a state of being.
We have all heard the age-old saying that you can’t help others until you help yourself. Christians need to take note of this. You (Christians) can’t help others until you help yourself and your fellow Christians. This week we discussed whether or not Christians can not go to church and still be part of the Church. We also talked about how going to church doesn’t mean you are part of the Church. If the ultimate goal of a Christian is to get people to know Jesus, shouldn’t they all be a part of the Church before trying to reach other people?
I worked in retail while attending college and became quite familiar with mystery or secret shopping. For those of you who do not know what mystery shopping is, I'll provide you with a brief description. An independent company is hired by retail chains to send in a representative to evaluate a retail location according to predetermined criteria.
Anyone can call themselves a Christian. Practically anyone can call themselves a church. Anyone can go to a church. It’s really not that hard to pretend you are a Christian: you just say that you are one. No one bats an eye if you never go to church. Besides killing someone, everything else is pretty much acceptable by this generation. So the people who DO go to church HAVE to be Christians right? Apparently not.
You may have seen the meme or heard some pastor give a rousing call-to-action for you to BE the CHURCH! Perhaps you have even stopped to ponder what being the church looks like and what exactly in entails. The only way for people to "be the church" is for a group of people to constantly be becoming a worshipping community that responds to the presence of God in every avenue of their life. This doesn't mean we (always) break out in church-music flashmobs, but it does mean that we are always striving to provide ministry to those who are in closest proximity to us at any given time.
Over the last 30 years, my life has somehow continuously circled around the question, "What is wrong with the church?" Now, of course, it is not usually presented in question form. It is usually addressed in declarative statements from grizzled clergy and beleaguered churchgoers. The "You know what is wrong with the church today..." argument dentate forcefully appears and is concluded after the airing of sharp grievances about the worst parts of the church.
I am here to settle this debate once and for all. I have the final answer to what is actually wrong with the Church.
As a nonbeliever, one of the most annoying things about Christians is evangelism. They stand in the streets on their soap boxes, they leave tracts instead of tips, they infiltrate soup kitchens and donation centers, and most annoying of all, they visit neighborhoods and knock on doors.
Telling others about Jesus and the good news of salvation is a joy available to all believers. Some would even consider it a duty or mission that must be done regardless of how it makes your feel emotionally. The joyous and missional aspects of evangelism often times gets wrapped up a layer of efficiency and results. That is, there are times when the Gospel is accompanied by an attitude that seeks to "win" the most with the least amount of effort. In the mid 1900's (and other times throughout Christian history) the introduction of the Fire Insurance policy ruled the day.
I love carving out quiet time for reading, writing, thinking, and mediating. I often find it laborious to have to “shake my neighbors hand” in a crowded room. Not that I don’t like people and not because I don’t see the value, but because I am already tiring by all the stimuli that has been happening since I arrived on campus.