Home > Simply Church > Simply Church: My Issues #1

Simply Church: My Issues #1

The lights dim. The large stadium seating room goes dark. The mass gathering quiets. Then, the stage lights go up, and the drums begin their beat. The band starts their gig. The crowd sings along, dances, and waves their arms in the air. When the band ceases, a speaker comes on stage.

Everyone sits down and is silent again. The spotlight is on the orator. He starts talking about life lessons he learned from a book. He tells stories about his life and others’ life. Posters and artsy decorations related to what the speaker is talking about fill the stage. He is charismatic and motivating in his speech. He finally brings together everything he has been talking about into an ethical lesson that the audience should adhere to. The band comes up one last time to finish off their set. When everyone departs, they talk about how awesome the performance was today.

This isn’t a rock concert. This isn’t a motivational speaker. This is church.

Is there anything inherently wrong with this? Absolutely… not. I understand that there is wonderful heartfelt motivation to draw people into a church to hear about God. I understand that pastors and church leaders want to put on the best show possible to bring as many people to Jesus as possible. That’s fantastic! I understand that creating environments like this can help people “feel” Jesus. I understand that the pastor often has insightful words for his people. But there are many things about this way of doing church I don’t like.

This Sunday-performance driven way of doing church takes a lot of resources. I’ve done these things. I’ve put together worship teams. I’ve found the speakers. I’ve been the speaker. Hell, I’ve even done lighting. The man hours and money that go into these Sunday events can be crazy.

Worship teams often spend hours and hours every week practicing. Most churches use financial resources to hire someone to sing songs on Sundays. The building, lighting, sound, decorating, computers, software, and paying people to use and do these things requires a significant amount of money. Again, the time resources these things require are very significant. And I have serious questions about whether or not this is the best way for the people of the kingdom of Jesus to be spending their time and money. Is this the best use of resources to strengthen, build, and expand the kingdom of Jesus on earth? Maybe. But I’m not convinced.

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  1. December 22, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    So the real question is what is the best way? Now? More specifically, how are you being led to strengthen, build and expand the kingdom? I believe there are many ways, but they all come down to the individual/s particular calling and then obedience to what he thinks God is leading him to at any given time. I had a conversation with a woman the other day about how old school hokey church and old school, uncool christian radio is used by God to bring people to faith. As well as a bible in a hotel room. The cool thing is it is His Spirit that draws people to Himself and He is not at all limited by mistakes we may make. And maybe they are not mistakes at all, but obedience to His plans.

  2. December 22, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Nice snow.

  3. December 22, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Well, it depends on how you define mistakes. I’m assuming in the Christian world that mistakes are not acts of obedience to God. That doesn’t really make sense. Certainly God works through crappy things. I rejoice that whether by false motives or true, Christ is preached. But it would be a cop out to say that the Spirit of Jesus is able to reach people despite us so let’s just do whatever. I’m definitely down with individual calling, but most individuals I know make assumptions about their calling based upon the systems in place and the situations they exist in. There is often a very restricted way that people presume calling. Also, I don’t know if the question is: “What is the best way?” That might be too pragmatic. Maybe the question is: “What does Scripture say about it?”

  4. December 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I like that Jennifer reminds us of the Spirit’s ability to work through all sorts of methods. The scenario of the church gathering you wrote about gives me the impression of a polished, established, well-resourced and well-staffed modernistic approach. I enjoyed learning more thoughts on the movement into post-modernism and how churches must address this worldview shift in the way they fashion weekend gatherings, weekly life, and personal discipleship methods (Dan Kimball’s writings: http://www.dankimball.com/vintage_faith/2006/04/origin_of_the_t.html )

  5. December 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Yeah, Jenn is great. I was portraying the sort of image you describe. However, even when churches aren’t as well resourced or staffed, the format is generally the same. Do you agree? Thanks for the link.

  6. January 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Just as I don’t know how a Catholic can deservedly tithe (especially a few years ago) when the income was literally coming in one door, and to pedophilia defense attorneys out the other. This is very similar. At these churches you are not tithing, you are paying admission. I don’t think God wanted “Capital ammortization” and overhead to be the bulk of where his money is used.

    @Jeremiah: Also, when you think of this story, when you think about “mega church” insert “NFL”. When you think “how it should be done” insert “NCAA”. Eventually, you’ll come around! 🙂

    • January 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      *amortization

  7. January 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Sadly, I think that the admission fee is sometimes an accurate way of putting it.

    I don’t know know if NFL – NCAA is a fair comparison. With church, the goal is a product that more perfectly represents Jesus. With football, the goal is a product that more perfectly represents football, and the NFL is just better football. 😉

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