Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just Wondering

The church is changing. It always has and it always will. Yes I know that Jesus and his Word don't change. I had one of my earliest debates over Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." But people change, and because people change, cultures change. The church always tries to stop it, as it seeks to keep doing what it's always done with many totally expecting the same results, and others thinking great changes will happen. Which one is the real insane one? We've spent the last twenty years bickering over whether the worship style of the post World War Two era was immutable and eternal, and now, most of us have moved on to a deeper and more scriptural understanding of church things. And yet, we've evolved into a whole new set of expectations from Joe Christian about what church is supposed to be and do.
Are you having trouble getting members to come out for special events? Have your "old fashion" pot luck fellowships gotten farther and farther apart with less and less enthusiasm from members? Having any trouble getting people to sign up to be involved in things? Thank goodness for parents who sign up to make sure their kids have a great children's ministry at church. But what happens when those kids move out of the children's ministry? Are those same parents willing to help, or have they "paid their dues" and taking a break - a long, long break?
I'm really not whining or trying to paint a negative picture of the church - though those who don't know me will assume that is what I'm doing. No, I'm just trying to understand what has changed. I'm not frustrated or depressed and yes, I'm still at one of the most wonderful churches in the world. I just see changes happening all over.
Here's what I see, as I put my sociological & theological hat on. It looks to me like we have a clash of cultural perspectives that are bumping into each other at church like an old Bumper Car ride. First, there is the lose of loyalty and commitment to anything institutional, and unfortunately, with all the chest pounding about being a restoration movement, we've let the church become an institution that members are called to support, rather than a family that supports members. So, we see detachment and a lack of loyalty. Second, as I've said before, we live in a consumer society, so church is no longer a tool to pool resources, it's another "what do you have that I need" commodity that all to often can't compete with TV, sports, family activities, and reruns of Seinfeld. Thirdly, there are those who have expectations that church can hang on to all the old things that church use to do that gave so many great memories of simpler times. The cure is more pot lucks, more traditional Bible classes, and narrower options for helping people draw closer to God. It's not all bad, but then again this isn't the 1960's. And the last element in this mix are the folks who just want to do what ever it takes to grow spiritually. They don't have any ax to grind, and they don't HAVE to have their way, but they don't want some external activity to define their walk with God. They have spiritual families, they do personal ministries of compassion for others, and they see themselves a walking with God 24/7. They see the church as a tool for helping others, for promoting togetherness, and for doing things that only a larger group can do, but again - their spirituality is not defined by their church.
The mix is bigger than these four, and most folks are really a combination of two or more, but the real question is, how can a church like that build for the future? Call me old fashion or simplistic, but I believe the answer is and must always be that - it's all got to be about Jesus. Knowing Him. loving Him, and becoming like Him. That will always be the only real standard for any group of God's people - regardless of how the culture changes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another great post from you. Thank you. Where has your church web site gone? I have not heard a sermon in months.

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