Before we even get into the heart of this blog entry, I want to throw out a disclaimer. This post is not intended to turn people away from going to church. The views I am expressing are entirely my own. I’m not trying to make some kind of anti-religious statement or declare the churches of today to be evil. I feel I’ve always been transparent with previous posts, and I don’t want to ever stop doing that. I started this blog to write. The best way I can express my thoughts is by writing them out. Not everyone is going to like my words, and that’s okay. If we all agreed on everything, how boring of a planet would this be?
I also want to say, as I have in the past, I don’t know everything. I’m no theologian with seven different Biblical degrees. I didn’t even go to college. My first job was pumping gas for people to pay for my Christian school tuition. After graduating, I just kept working. I had no desire to continue in school. Having said that, I just want to point out that you shouldn’t read my posts and immediately rearrange your whole life. If you’re a Christian reading this, you should always lean on the discernment of the Holy Spirit to determine if there is truth in my writing. Anyway, that turned into a much longer disclaimer than I had intended. Let’s move forward, shall we?
When I attend church, I get bored. My mind wanders, and to be honest, I get a lot of great blog material while sitting there. I would be a complete idiot if I believed there wasn’t anything good inside the four walls of a church. I have always said God can do anything, anywhere. He cannot be confined to a box that works the way we want. Whether we agree with everything in today’s churches or not, God can do work in them. And if He does work, it’s going to be awesome. One of my life’s most amazing moments came while my wife and I were huddled together weeping at church. It was an intimate moment that changed our lives. It wasn’t the music. It wasn’t the pastor. It wasn’t the sermon. It was God. He showed up and brought a butt load of forgiveness with Him.
But I do get bored. Everything feels like an act to me. Like we’re all at one huge pep rally, and it’s an hour and a half time slot we can utilize to escape from all of our problems and worries, and feel good. We see images on the screens, we clap and worship our Savior, we shake hands with the ones around us, once we’re instructed to do so. Sitting there among thousands of people is comfortable. It’s safe. When was the last time cops or soldiers burst in during worship and started arresting everyone? When has your pastor stood up there and said that following Jesus might actually suck? It might cost you everything and it’s not very fun? Or have you always heard that following Christ will bring you an abundant life? It will bring prosperity? It will bring you peace?
It’s a routine, just like anything else. We have been programmed to stand up, sit down, sing some songs, listen to a sermon, give money, exit in a controlled manner, then go out for lunch. There is nothing robotic or routine about the Holy Spirit. I feel like that powerful Spirit has been muffled, almost snuffed out of today’s churches, because He doesn’t fit into the structure we are so used to. How can we work Him in when we have a certain number of songs to sing or an outlined sermon that takes exactly 45 minutes to deliver? And why isn’t there more prayer inside a church?
And I’m not talking about the ones inserted at particular time slots on the bulletin. I mean honest, gut-wrenching prayer. I honestly feel that if I stood up in the middle of a sermon and started to pray for someone, I would get kicked out. Inside the four walls of a church has become more about fear, intimidation, and following rules than a spontaneous move of the Holy Spirit. We’re terrified to even go to the bathroom, because the ushers won’t allow us to return to our seat, and we’ll get banned to the overflow room. (I’m sure that’s not in every church, but it made me laugh, so I left it in here.)
In my personal experience, I’ve had more true encounters with our living God surrounded by people from different countries who have a hard time speaking English. I’ve seen Jesus show up when I’ve been with those who are homeless, smelly, dirty, uncouth, awkward, and broken. I’ve been the hands and feet of Jesus by feeding the hungry and clothing the poor. And this is all right here in my own backyard, not in some foreign country a thousand miles across the map. (There is nothing wrong with going overseas either. Jesus did say go into ALL the world.) Giving someone a hug. Telling someone you love them. Those reach people more than the bright lights and booming sound systems in our churches.
I’ve seen a lot of good come out of churches as well. Without a doubt, most put quite a bit of money into missions and outreach. There are some smaller organizations out there that might not survive without a church supporting them. God can use a church to further His kingdom, I’m not trying to dispute that. I just strongly believe that God doesn’t want to use only our money. He wants us. He wants His people to get out there and show His love to the lost.
How can the lost, lonely, broken, hurting, hopeless, hungry, naked, dirty, and searching see our light, when we’re inside a sanctuary with no windows?