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29 January 2009

Overheard

I'm wondering if you notice any commonalities in the following phrases, as they relate to the Church. I think I do. I started thinking about these things after reading Jake Woods' post about choosing one's battles. Whether or not you agree with his conclusions, there's not a whole lot of doubt that he's definitely onto something.

It's almost effortless to read the statements below and say, "Isn't that the truth?! That is so like [other] people in the Church." It's not nearly as easy to recognize any of these as our own sentiments. After I typed them all out I went one by one to examine myself and ask God to show me which ones I've been guilty of owning. Unfortunately, I found some matches.

(I use "church" in its popularly-employed manner. Also tried to be an equal-opportunity offender:)

"I would love to get more involved in helping my community, but my church just isn't providing any opportunities."

"They are always asking for volunteers."

"I feel like I'm doing everything myself! Nobody else will volunteer -- it's the old '80/20 rule.'"

"The youth pastor point-blank said that our son is pulling the wool over our eyes. I don't buy that for a minute. I ought to know my own, kid and it's not any of his business!"

"All that church is interested in is building a building, but they can't even get the heat working in my Sunday School class."

"Our music is pretty flat; it's mostly old hymns. We go here because we really like the preacher."

"The song leader is doing music for the younger generation. That will come back to bite him, because people my age are the ones who give to the church."

"I've missed two Sundays and nobody has even called me."

"I don't like going there. Everybody wears a suit and tie. I want to dress comfortably!"

"I can't believe that they let that guy on stage with jeans on."

"I've been going here since I was a baby, and this is the worst pastor ever. He's boring and monotonous. He's so educated that he seems pretentious."

"I've been going here since I was a baby, and this is the worst pastor ever. All he does is tell stories. I want the 'meat of the Word' -- I want to be fed!"


The common thread that I see? All these comments are centered on self -- ways that I can be served rather than how I can serve others. If we ever asked ourselves why we were saying things like this, I believe we'd come to that conclusion pretty quickly.

As I thought while reading Jake's post, if we wait for major battles before engaging, the enemy is going to overtake us by simply and repeatedly winning the skirmishes that are uncontested. Is it even permissible to let sentiments like this go unchecked in the Church? The starting and purging place is internal for each of us, certainly, but we're doing the body of Christ an awful disservice if we see these things around us and don't call them to people's attention.

5 comments:

Christy said...

And how would you propose calling this to people's attention?

Preston N said...

I have maybe a different take on this. I would say that the church has brought this dilemma on themselves. How? Again, just look at look how most churches market themselves these days? Every other church marketing slogan or campaign I see screams "ME" and not GOD (just look in your mailbox from time to time)! I've seen everything from "How God can make you a better Lover" to "How God can give you the best life yet!". Look at the efforts the church has gone to make attending and participating so effortless. Look at the lengths we have gone to make sure the decor and lighting is entertaining or unoffensive to the eyes. Look at all the "extras" we feel we need to offer in order to make coming to church pleasurable (as if that's should be our motive). Why are we surprised to overhear comments like this when most churches have marketed theselves to be appealing to selfish sinners?

The reality is many make complaints like this because many of its attenders feel like the church has done a bait and switch and once they find out that their not the one really being served they get upset and complain or better yet leave. The problem I feel is we have attracted too many goats and not enough sheep. I realize my comments don't apply to all churches (nor am I implying this about Wal-highway either) but this is just a broad overview of the current landscape.

Dean Lusk said...

Christy... blog about it? :) Seriously, I was hoping that I'd get some input from people who read. I do have my own thoughts. I'll definitely share them.

Preston, I think you're onto something: "many of its attenders feel like the church has done a bait and switch..."

I totally believe that!

"Hey, come to our place (and not theirs, by the way...), where we offer you these fabulous benefits as a member!" and then upon finding out that we have to give our lives up because we love God so completely and that Jesus actually served others and we're to do the same, I do think the bait loses its allure (pun slightly intended). :)

And like you, I'm certainly not painting this as a picture of any particular church fellowship, but when I look at the cultural climate of the Church, it sure appears this way (although I sense that this is changing).

A slogan, by the way, is a unique identifier that can have positive impact, and I have to plug ours because I love it. "Be the Church" (our slogan -- but not just a slogan) has definitely had the effect of making our people remember that we very literally make up the Church -- it is not a place we can go or a thing we can have -- and how we represent Christ determines what people think of Him and the Church.

Anonymous said...

Dean, we've discussed before concept of the church marketing itself to the public. We just have a selfish culture that thinks each person is right, has rights and should be catered to those rights. Look at how Christian literature has changed over the years. 'Experiencing God' is a study that has been out for a couple of decades and its premise is "GOD is always at work" and we need to get involved with Him. More recently the shift has moved to "It's not all about you" (Purpose driven life). Even saying it's not about you, puts the emphasis/focus on 'you'.

Ya' know, if we are to be Christ-like, we stick to an unwavering Truth. Christ was a SERVANT-leader. Again, it comes down to personal responsibility: check our motives, pray, be mature, choose our words wisely. The Bible lays out a plan for voicing concerns to others (first bathe it in prayer). We do have to consider which issues are of eternal significance.

I've found that the people who complain the most are probably not invovled in any area of service. But I've also found that it's hard to complain about something when you are a part of it.

-t

Jake Woods said...

"We do have to consider which issues are of eternal significance."

Absolutely! There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to wear a 3-piece suit to church. But my concern is not the clothing, it's the attitude BEHIND the clothing. It truly saddens me to see my friends that i sit with at lunch every day be absolutely repulsed by Christianity simply because of all of the dumb, unbiblical rules that we have grown to rely upon.

"The Bible lays out a plan for voicing concerns to others."

Again Absolutely! There is no way i would walk into another church building on Sunday morning wearing raggedy clothes without first making the pastor and the other heads of that particular body aware of my heart and my intent because i feel that would simply stir up dissention among the believers (Proverbs 6:16-19). But i feel that I've discussed this with our pastor (discussion with one person), with Dean (i've probably bothered him too much!), and with our Youth Pastor enough that it's time (in my particular case) to bring it before the body of believers. And i don't think there will be any difference made if someone doesn't start actually practicing it.

I apologize if i seem tactless. I'm honestly not trying to be that way, please understand that.I'm just sick of this perverted version of Christianity and i'm just ready for God to completely wreck the church and set it ablaze for Him.

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