Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wow, That was Easy!

A few days ago I was talking to a friend about churches. If you have been reading my Blog for a while you know about my search for a church. I have visited the church this friend attends and have seen the many people who are a part of this church. It appears that this church is doing a lot of things right based on the number of people who attend. I mean that is how we measure success...right?! But one thing this person said caught me off-guard. It made me wonder if this church has become too successful. This person was talking about serving and being involved in the church and how convenient it was that they have back to back services so you don't have to really miss anything. This person also said that this church is a progressive user of technology, as a matter of fact they have set up online giving. This person said that they have made it real easy to give. They just typed in their bank info into the Web site and it drafts a certain amount of money out of their account each month and you don't even have to think about it. This church and many like it across the country are trying to make church easy and convenient. The church seems to be following the model of Wal-Mart or Staples and not the model of the New Testament. As I study the history of the church and read about the early church in the New Testament I do not see anything easy or convenient about it. As a matter of fact I see quite the opposite.
Acts 7:59 - 8:3  - 7:59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep. 8:1And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
Now I am not sure about how you read this but it does not sound like going to church and being a part of the early church was easy or convenient to me. Imagine driving to church Sunday morning and seeing something like this taking place. How many would park the car and start heading for the church doors? I am not sure about you but I think I might tell my wife and kids to get down in the floorboard and do not make contact with anyone while I do a quick, illegal u-turn to get out of there!

I used the following passage in my previous post but I think it is relevant here as well:
Acts 20: 22, 23 - 22"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
Wait a minute...hardship and prison are facing Paul! Surely he is doing something wrong! Surely he meant to say convenient parking, coffee bars, and online giving await me! How does he expect to draw in the masses talking like this. Does he really think people are going to want to be a part of this?

As I read the Word it appears that Christ did more to discourage people from coming to him than he did to encourage them.
Luke 9:57-62 -  57As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 59He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." 62Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
How many pastor conferences do you think Christ would have been invited to after saying this? How many church growth conferences would ask him to be the keynote speaker? It seems to me that Christ has called us to something very different than what we see in churches today. I do not think he has called us to the easy things in life, I think he has called us to quite the opposite. As you get ready on Sunday morning ask yourself if you church looks like somewhere Christ would show up on Sunday morning based on what you see in scripture. Based on the life he lived, the people he ministered to and the things he taught would he show up at your church and say "Now these people are doing what I called them to do. This place is full of men and women who are sacrificing much for the kingdom!" or would he stand in the parking lot and weep? Would he weep at how far we have shifted away from a lifestyle he has called us to? Away from a lifestyle of sacrifice and suffering to a lifestyle of comfort and convenience? I believe Christ is still looking for those who will give up Earthly treasures in exchange for heavenly ones.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I hope that the church in america is getting it's "ears to hear" on.