I am confused by the church. The older I get the less I understand what it is and the more I long for it to be what it was created to be. When did the church become so consumed with getting people inside her walls that she forgot that part of her purpose was to love and serve the community that she is surrounded by? When did the church become so preocuppied with the bottom line that she desperately searches for the next best “growth” campaign with the objective of raising more money? How did we get here?
I have heard of a pastor who claims that the local church is the hope of the world. I used to understand that statement. It used to make all kinds of sense to me–make church really fun and entertaining and programmatically well done and people will come and enjoy it. In other words–borrowing from a popular baseball movie–“If we build it, they will come.” And for a while, they did! They came in droves attracted to what we could do inside of the church walls. They were fascinated by our ability to use videos and set designs to communicate in a sensitive way. We entertained them with the message of the Gospel, sugar-coating it until it looked and tasted like a lolli-pop.
And then something subtle began to happen. “Christians” were acting more like members of an exclusive spiritual club than following the Way Jesus. The consumerism of 20th and 21st Century American “Christians” began to drive the church and she became more consumed with maintaining the quality of what was happening inside her walls than embracing her community, being the first to serve and the best at loving.
The Church was God’s idea. When we pear it down to our idea or our ability–something supernatural is lost and it becomes a fake, feel-good, people driven enterprise. Isn’t it confusing that what should be the number-one world changing force in the world has become castrated to insignificance? What is it going to take for the Church to take a progressive step back to what it was supposed to be?
People want to be a part of a movement–they alwasy have and they always will. In today’s world, the movement that people want to be a part of is a movement that is making a difference–a movement that is changing the world. That is simply going to call for followers of Jesus to begin living in an unconventional way.
What does unconventional way mean?
It means that instead of focusing on how to be a better church person in all comfort, you focus on what it means to follow Jesus. It means that when people are hungry–you feed them; when people are thristy, you give them something to drink; when they’re drowning in the scum waters of the Bayou–you help them to dry land; when their basements are flooded–you be the first to help them get it out. The opportunities go on and on.
There is a big difference between church people and followers of Jesus. People who say that the church is the hope of the world may be in danger of producing church people. People who say that the love and grace and freedom through Jesus are the hopes of the world might be following the real-deal Jesus. They might be the ones seeing fireworks in their community as they love and serve it instead of being “too busy” trying to figure out how to pull fireworks within their church walls.