I am the first to admit that church can be boring.
Sometimes suffering for the gospel and attending Sunday morning church services are almost indistinguishable. For a group of people who claim to have found the key to really living, both here and for eternity, you have to wonder if death is the better choice with the way they do church. The one thing they have going for them is, there is no way you could confuse them with those who are not Christ followers. They look nothing like the world, sadly they also have trouble reaching it.
Church in other places isn’t boring.
To keep the seats filled in expensive buildings that now symbolize success in our western version of Christianity, there can be no suffering or talk of suffering. Who wants to be a part of an organization that may lead to suffering? There is no question it is now exciting, entertaining and full of life, just what a world looking to satisfy its insatiable appetite for glitz and glamour is looking for. At least there is no trouble reaching the world, but what is the message they are reaching it with? The décor looks the way you would expect it to look if you were thumbing through a magazine or looking at a house for sale, nothing about structure or foundation, just the beauty and majesty you always wanted. Pretty attractive isn’t it?
If your church is neither the boring one nor the hub of entertaining fluff…
…you are truly blessed. Don’t let your guard down. There is nothing Satan likes more than a church that has only glitz and glamour. Selling the world a brand of Christianity that places people’s likes and wants over God’s requirements, plays into his hand. When you hear we need to make sure our church service is culturally relevant, be excited but approach it with cautious optimism. Both the Christ follower and those who are trying to find out what this Christ following thing is all about, understand everything in terms of the culture in which they live. This makes a culturally relevant church necessary. The problem only comes when cultural relevance becomes cultural dominance that dictates the message presented so that the ways of the world become the ways of the church.
Here is my way of testing…
…to see if the tension between the glitz and glamour (the culturally relevant quality and style of the presentation) and the gospel message are balanced. It is only one question long.
When people see the décor of the collective of Christ followers what does it say to them about the construction that surrounds it and holds it up?
A half-hearted, poorly prepared and executed presentation suggests a problem with structure of the collective of Christ followers. A “staged house” with all the attention paid to appearance may be hiding structural issues. A presentation that dazzles the crowd but never challenges them to go deeper, suggests a collective Christ followers that may not have anything more than what you see. Everything the collective of Christ followers does, points toward the proper or improper structure that holds up the church…
…The balance/tension that we need to maintain…
…in the collective of Christ followers is between a culturally relevant (quality and style) presentation and a culturally unpopular message. Our goal is not to offend but if the message is truly counter cultural it will be offensive. No matter how much the décor (presentation) fits into the culture, the message just cannot. Remember the message in a nutshell is; you can’t make yourself into what you need to be, so Jesus did what you couldn’t. That goes against the culture that Satan has sold the world since he handed out fruit in the garden saying, “you can be like God”. It is unacceptable to present the message in an offensive way, acting as if Christ followers are somehow better than everyone else. It is also unacceptable to present the message stripped down so that no one gets offended, replacing it with a great show and lovely feelings…
…Actions that point to anyone or anything other than the one true God are not supposed to be a part of the way we do church.
When a décor is prepared for a photo shoot or a house showing, it does not point toward reality but instead a fantasy world that demands nothing of those who live in that space.
Does the collective of Christ followers you belong to create the same fantasy world, one that demands nothing of those who occupy the seats when you do church?
Why are some churches avoiding talking about the structure when it is essential to the stability of all who become followers of Christ?
Why are they robbing Christ followers and those wondering what this Christ following thing is all about of the opportunity to hear the tough but rewarding truth about a life built on a rock foundation?
Fluffy feel good teaching with a name it and claim it theme won’t fill the refrigerator of the people who have lost their jobs, comfort those who have experienced sickness or death in their family or offer peace during a worldwide pandemic.
Slick showy church services whether online or in person will not make people feel like God is in control and that He has a plan.
Watering down the reality of our need to be different, to repent from our sin so that people will feel good won’t fly when the pain and suffering all around can no longer be ignored.
For some being highly regarded, liked and respected in the community while being considered hip and cool, is more important than the offensive message of repentance and reliance on God. If so there is a book other than mine that you should be burning starting with:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes… Romans 1:16 (NIV)
Stay tuned A Little Understanding – more “Blueprint” will be posted in July 2020.
From time to time my blog will include abridged excerpts from my book “Blueprint.” Like any author/blogger, I find it difficult to leave the words I have written in my computer until a publisher can be found. Maybe it’s because someone somewhere needs to read these words now.
For more excerpts and quotes from my book Blueprint find the heading “Categories” on the right side of this page and click on “Blueprint (my book)”