Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Satisfaction with "Doing Church"

I told you the down side of "doing" church below. It seems like we are communicating a false impression of what both church, and a life of faith, is all about. But, having said that, I don't think that's necessarily true.

It's like having friends over for dinner. You clean your house. You clear your schedule. You serve a nice meal and maybe enjoy a movie or play some games. It's like Friendship 101. That's normal behavior but true friendship is much more than that and everyone knows it. Your friends know that you don't live like that every night. They know your house isn't always clean. They know that if they came back the next day unannounced that everything would be much different. You aren't going to drop everything and start serving them. In fact, you might put them to work!

They also know that if they wanted to get serious about being your friend that there would be much more "required" of you. You'd not only come over at their invitation but you would return the favor. Plus you'd start to share more of everyday life, like helping them move or show up at the hospital when someone is sick. And you'd share more of your heart too. Your conversations would go deeper as you share your doubts and worries about life as well as your joys.

That's exactly what happens at church. Sunday truly is a "front door" to the relationship. It's only a beginning not the end. There's nothing wrong with "entertaining guests" on Sunday but I do believe that you have to make it clear that there is much more than a one-way relationship to a life of faith. There is always a "next step" to take toward God and community. And the deeper you go the more sacrifice there is - just like in a friendship.

As I throw this out to you...what's your view of church? Maybe you avoid it because it's too shallow. Well, if you see it only as a Sunday event...yes, it IS shallow. There is much more. Or, maybe you like the shallowness of it and you enjoy being a spiritual "consumer". If that's true, there's another step for you to take - a step toward community and service - a step toward learning to not only receive but to give back. That is true worship...not putting in your "time" or singing a song or throwing a buck in the plate when it goes by, but reflecting God's giving nature by giving back to others.

The Spirit filled life is not about you - it's about others and God. And surprisingly, when you get that straight, you find that you are most satisfied and fulfilled.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Frustrations with "Doing Church"

"Doing church" is a constant frustration for me. You don't "do" church. It's not a Sunday event. Church is a lifestyle shared with a network of people and filled with the presence of God. So every time we hold a Sunday service I feel like we are somehow undermining the very thing that we preach!

Part of being "mission" minded is communicating in the context of the people that you want to reach. The USA context is business/service oriented. People understand going to a business and getting what they want/need. If you want to reach these people it's helpful to embody the context that they understand and are comfortable with. So the modern church packages it's message in a nice one hour bundle on Sunday morning and offers free child care. How convenient. But what if that context is fundamentally a flawed vehicle for our message? What if convenience and comfort is the antithesis of our message?

What I mean is that the message of Jesus is embedded in the concept of community- of a shared life - and sacrifice. But we convey our message primarily through a one hour medium that promotes looking at the back of someone's head in the comfort of stadium seating - the very opposite of community and sacrifice. We justify that by saying that Sunday morning is only the "front door" to community life, but I wonder how convincing we are.

Of course, this frustration is not news to promoters of the House Church movement (groups of believers committed to only meeting in homes to counteract the problem I speak of) but that movement has it's own set of frustrations and limitations. More soon...