Friday, September 9, 2016

A Church With *YOU* In Mind?


I'm sick of the program.  They all have the same format... everybody filters in somewhere near start time.  They sing one fast song while everyone finishes their coffee and cashes out of the book store with their mints and gum and trinkets with scriptures on them, and find their Bibles which they had earlier placed in their "regular" seats.  The band does an extra repetition of the last verse so everyone can stand where they belong long enough to signify that they silently acknowledge church has, in fact, started.  Next, they break from the music and everyone once again wanders about, inside the sanctuary this time, giving each other hugs (that I generally don't want) and exchanging pleasantries.  Intro: Check.

It's now time to do announcements about all the upcoming fundraisers and entertainment and such, conveniently affording the emcee an opportunity to bring the audience back to order, and, once again, have them ambling to back their seats.  Somewhere along in here you'll get a semi-apologetic plea for money mingled with a touch of guilt for those attendees who don't freely and happily give.  Then one more fast song while they pass the plate and to get people's attention back on the show.  Offering: Check.  Follow this with 3 slow, moody, minor chord songs-- repeat, repeat, repeat -- to cultivate an atmosphere where people can be whipped into a more emotionally sensitive frame of mind.  

(Oh, slightly off topic, and for the record, I really think if you need "worship practice" you've crossed over to a place I don't want to go.  What even can that be??  I don't practice worshiping, and I can't imagine it.  Let's call it what it is- entertainment rehearsal, just like any 'show.')

Cue the pastor.

30-45 minutes of a 3 point sermons, probably inspired by, if not downloaded straight from, followed by a felicitous prayer in their best "holy voice," then hurry off to lunch at Denny's with your friends before the church up the street gets there and moves all the tables.

OK, so I get it--  lots of the people there are doing all this with good intent and for basically the right reasons, but they are still following this pre-programmed "outline" of how we "do" church.  I can NOT do it, anymore, at all.  I can't.  I understand it, because I did it for years.  I've been sick of it for years, too, but like so many, I just tried to make the best of it.  I.can' 

It's getting worse instead of better, and the whole production is like any other social club or gathering or group: clique-ish, shallow, desperate to seem sincere, trying to mean it, and having a carefully crafted image to sell to the public.  More and more pandering to a devilish culture is turning modern churches into festering boils on the butt of Christianity. Standing back and looking at it from the outside now, after years of seeing the inner workings, I can see that it's circling the drain.  

There are some who mean for it to work.  They are clinging to the shreds of what once was, hoping to build revival on the back of something long past.  They are being stripped of their freedom to speak truth by fear of what price they will have to pay at the hands of an increasingly hostile society, or by threat of governmental interference.  Many are caving in to the pressures and "embracing diversity" at the cost of The Truth.  And the will of the people rules.   

Where is God in this?  I mean that as a serious question.  I can't get a good answer.  In my case, I know that God was with me and a few others in my church.  He was there, because He came with us, but NOT because of "the church" I attended.  Not because they said, "Come to church Sunday and Jesus will be there to meet your need!"  Not because He was billed as a healer on Wednesday night service.  Not because the special speaker promised something new from God.  Where is God in this?  I have to say I don't think He's in it much at all but for the sake of a few sincere die hards that just don't know what else to do.

I think it is time for His people to come out from among them.  I've thought for some years now that the true church will be driven underground and that we'll be meeting in homes and other smaller, private locations.  I thought it was a bad thing, and it saddened me to see it on the horizon, but now that it's here I don't feel that way.  I know that the church grows most when it is persecuted.  I see it as a purge and a cleansing.  I see it as a time to truly seek God and a time when He will reveal Himself to us.  

We need to be prepared.  We need  to have wisdom and knowledge given by God in this hour.  I believe that we are going to see great things that we haven't seen in the church since the days of the Book of Acts!  This is a time that the Bible spoke of and all mankind has anticipated.  God Almighty saw fit to place us here, now, so I am certain He has equipped us for the task.

Guard your heart!  Stay in The Word!  It will be your guide and keep you safe.  Cast off all the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Disentangle yourself from the affairs of this life.  Gird up your loins, saints!  Be prepared.  And look up!  Lift up your heads because your redemption draweth nigh!!