Good morning dear Reader!
Welcome back to the Sunday Series! As I've been blogging my way through our "Whole-Hearted" messages, I have been veering closer and closer to commentary on my faith and spiritual life. Today I thought we would continue in this direction with some of my thoughts on CHURCH!
Whether or not you've been to church or go regularly, you've probably heard someone comment that "church is lame." I've heard this from people too! It's lame to wake up on a Sunday when you don't have to, it's weird to put on nice clothes, it's boring to sing songs, and it's lame to get pointers from a middle aged white dude about what we should be doing in our lives.
"Church is lame" they say.
Are these people wrong? Is church lame? Is religion lame? Does being part of a church mean that you're going to be a boring, lame, old fuddy-duddy for the rest of your life?
Well, you know what, today I'm going to play devils advocate and say I think church CAN be lame.
When I hear the word "lame" I am filled with visions of boring, blah, and uninspiring things. Lame is silly, dumb, pointless, and not worth doing. Church CAN be these things. A lot of people can feel bored, uninspired, unconvinced, and unmoved by church.
It makes sense really, because if you have a body of believers who are stagnant in their faith, not impacting the world, not connecting, and not speaking the truth, you're definitely going to have a lame church.
John called out these types of churches in Revelation. But he didn't use the word lame: he called them "lukewarm." John explained that these lukewarm churches were blah: not terrible, but not actually making a difference. He wrote that it would be better for them to be hot or cold, because lukewarm is awful.
I think we still have these types of churches, 2000 years later. We have churches that are disconnected, not really doing anything positive, OR negative. They're just existing. There are three different things that might mean your church "experience" will be lame.
1. Church Can Be Lame If... It Fails to Speak The Truth
When I go to church and all I hear is ... "don't be afraid! God loves you," I often feel like church is lame. I have heard this message a thousand times at church: "don't be afraid! Don't let fear hold you back! Don't give in to fear!"
This message isn't terrible, but it's often not the main issue in people's lives. Fear is definitely something to talk about, but it was not the main message of the Gospel. Christ didn't spend his ministry focusing on fear for the meat of his sermons: he focused on faith, loving others, and living morally.
Preaching on fear is fine, but I think that fear is often more of a symptom of our problems, and not the source. Fear is what happens when we live in sin, run from God, or what we experience when we are going through difficult times.
Adam and Eve hid in shame and fear when they sinned: they wanted to separate themselves from God. If a pastor came up to them and said "Adam and Eve, don't let fear hold you back!" I'm sure they would have been comforted, but definitely not CONVICTED.
I think the problem in our church messages these days is that we're focused too much on fluffy and easy topics like fear, instead of addressing SIN.
When church addresses my sin, it's definitely not lame: being convicted, getting real guidance on how to live life, and hearing the gospel truth always gets my emotions, heart, and soul going.
We should never resort to avoiding the topic of "sin" in church, just to avoid upsetting people. The thing about the gospel message is that it IS polarizing, and it IS offensive! People don't like being told that they're sinful: but we NEED to be told the truth. We need to know WHY we have to repent and accept Christ.
When the church starts calling sin "mistakes," or when we let ourselves off the hook for sin, we end up with "lame" messages.
Churches should not feel afraid to speak the truth to their congregation. It is their job to speak the truth. Sure, it can be polarizing, but messages that prefer the comfortability of the congregation over the gospel will always be LAME.
2. Church Can Be Lame If... You Fail to Get Involved
Sometimes church seems lame just because we're not actually INVOLVED in the church. From the outside looking in, you might think that church people are wholesome and boring, and church activities are unfun, weird, or lame. It might seem lame to be part of Vacation Bible School, or to get involved with a tambourine on the worship team, but I can guarantee that once you take the dive, it will be anything but lame.
Church will always feel mediocre and lame if you never get involved: when you stake a claim in the community, put your name on it, and say "I'm involved," it ceases to be lame.
When we remain on the outside as judgmental figures, we will always look down on church.
Getting involved with church excites our emotions, builds relationships, and helps us grow. That growth, emotional involvement, and excitement is the opposite of lame. Using our gifts, building into the church community and helping people is extremely satisfying, fulfilling, and beautiful.
Sure, church might be kind of geeky sometimes: you're talking to the girl who found herself doing silly dances on stage in front of 60 vacation bible school kids to a funky "bop." But those silly dances helped me bless the kids, have fun, and get some laughs. Getting into the church community and using my gifts has allowed me to gain confidence and satisfaction.
We can't sit back and expect church to be awesome for US, while failing to give our time, energy, or creativity. Church and the church community is what you make of it to some degree. Getting involved, getting connected, and using our gifts will always increase our joy and satisfaction.
3. Church Can Be Lame If... It Fails to Impact The Community
When churches close in on themselves, refuse to get involved, and avoid their duty to the community, they can definitely be lame. The church is supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ in the community. We are to go out into the world, preaching the gospel, and helping the needy.
When the church takes on the responsibility to bless others, impact the community, and help the needy, it fulfills the purpose set out for it in Scripture. This is when church goes from lame to powerful.
Blessing others is key to a fulfilled life: church can give us a place and a space to accomplish this. Helping the needy is never lame: it is impacting, satisfying, and virtuous.
A church that makes an impact, has a place in the community, and desires to get connected with the needy is definitely NOT lame. Some of the most fun I've had at church were during events aimed at people OUTSIDE the nuclear church body.
Powerful churches are active in their communities.
They do not avoid their duty to help the needy, clothe the poor, and be a friend to the brokenhearted. Churches that represent Christ to their communities while making an impact are powerful, exciting, and fun to be a part of.
If your church isn't getting involved or making an impact, yeah, it might be kind of lame.
Try to set up new programs or ministries in your church that impact the community. Be the change you want to see in your church. Avoid being lame, and try to impact the community. Take every opportunity to get involved and to spread the Gospel.
So yes, church CAN be lame, but we can change that.
Choose a church that preaches the TRUTH, try to get involved using your gifts and talents, and make sure your church is reaching out to the community.