I grew up in a very traditional Church. We had a HUGE organ. Our Pastors wore robes. Everybody wore their Sunday best. We sang hymns. We said prayers that I didn’t understand. There was always donuts. There were kneelers. The wine was REAL!!
We did the same thing every week…
One day it dawned on me that no one looked like they wanted to be there. I started paying attention to people as they sang and said those prayers. I paid attention to people as they talked to each other. I listened closely to the Pastor as he taught and I really paid attention to the adults to see if they were paying attention.
Then I noticed something…no one seemed to be passionate or excited about what was happening.
Now, don’t get me wrong. That is a very broad generalization. But, I did notice when people did get excited and I realized that happened whenever anybody tried to change something!
Gosh, I remember sitting outside of meetings that my parents were a part of and hearing people yell about the smallest things. I remember when our Pastor started to play his guitar during the service…WHOA…you would have thought that he had welcomed in Satan himself.
I was 13 years old
It was during those years that I started to sense that I had a deep longing to love God and to love people. I know that sounds so simplistic to say. But, I can still remember the middle school retreat when God became real to me. It was like a light bulb went off.
[MOM & DADS...that's why we need to get our kids on retreats!]
That’s when my relationship with God became real. It became passionate. It became exciting!
Then the floor dropped out from underneath me…that’s when everything seemingly came crashing down. You see, many people in that Church didn’t like some of the changes that were being made. That’s when I started to see the community of God at it’s worse. And really, it all stemmed from a…
Lack of Genuine Community
The Fear to Change
Not much has changed since then. Churches still lack a genuine focus around these two incredibly foundational areas. Churches spend so much time, energy, and money chasing after programs and events that they eventually find themselves in a rut because those programs and events have become the focus of the Church. Then, when anybody suggests change, sometimes…you see community at it’s worse.
It is my belief and I believe it to my core that Churches are suffering from a lack of genuine community and the fear to change. I believe it’s these elements that helped drive the early Church to explosive growth and incredible community. This is laid out in Acts 2:41-47…
“That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved”
Community and Change are two elements that I believe the Church has to embrace and has to love.
In tomorrow’s post I’ll unpack exactly what I think that looks like…yikes!