What is it about CHURCH?
I’ve been attending since I was negative 9 months old. (i.e., conception, wait, negative 7 months, I was early), but I sometimes wonder about its relevance to my Christian walk—at least in its present state.
I was raised as a pastor’s kid which meant I attended church—all the time—every single day, it seemed. Actually, there was a stretch of nearly 30 days when I was 8 years old where we went to a service EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. No lie.
I don’t mind church. I still believe it’s part and parcel of the Christian package. But church today just seems so cold, calloused, and showy. The rise of the mega church has caused every service to feel like a concert, complete with lighting effects and darkened rooms. The preacher shares a nice thought, then we listen to another performance by the rockstars, and we go home.
And because the churches that do this draw big crowds, the little guys try to recreate it. But is this really church?
We’re so secularized and consumer-minded. We choose our churches based on who has the “best programs”, which actually means “who can spend the most money on decorations and talented leaders.” And we ask the ministers to dance for us each week. Not literally (although, some do that, too), but like dancing bears.
And that reminds me…
Showbiz pizza used to be a favorite place of mine. They were competitors with Chuck E. Cheese at the time. I tended to prefer Showbiz—I liked their robotic animal band better. Of course, looking back, both bands were horrible, and the robot animals looked like something out of an 80s horror movie.
But, eventually Showbiz lost out to Chucky. It was always nice to go there, eat some pizza, play a few games, jump through the ball pit (praying no crazies dropped any epidermic needles in there), dance with the guy in the bear costume, and listen to the robotic band play a tune for me.
But as I think back, I wonder how different our church services are than a trip to Showbiz or Chuck E. Cheese. We eat, we get entertained, the animals play, the bear dances, then we go home. Is this really church? Is this really the Body of Christ? At least at Mr. Cheese’s I can make some friends as I connect with others my age at the skee ball lanes. At church, I get shuffled from one room to the next, stare at the back of the heads in front of me while listening to the talking head behind the pulpit, then I’m ushered out to get into the line that’s being directed into traffic by the cops.
This is church? Really? This is the Body of Christ, the salt of the earth, a holy nation, a peculiar people? REALLY? (Well, maybe we fit the peculiar people bill. Actually, we definitely fit the peculiar people bill.)
The dilemma is, there’s a dilemma. The other dilemma is, I don’t know what to do about it. This mode of “church” is failing to create true disciples of Christ. We are seeing people as numbers and pew fillers more than sons and daughters of God who need a true relationship not only with God, but with one another. Are they getting that? If not, we’d better start finding a way to make it happen. Otherwise, we’re failing to fulfill the Great Commission.
I’m not saying it’s okay to avoid church altogether, nor am I saying that a church who uses laser lights on stage is of the devil. But I am suggesting we might consider rethinking how we “do church.”
And, just a warning, if the piano player is wearing a gorilla costume this week, I’m out.Keep Reading: What Is Discipleship?