I recently sat in a church that spends more money on its Christmas and Easter programs than it does on its benevolence fund. I know because they are kind enough to post that information publicly.
Five Thousand dollars a year for the poor. Almost twice that for productions. The sermon was full of the easy to hit sins, cute phrases and “rah rah, go team!” rants. Diversity didn’t seem to be a major concern to the congregation or the pastor. It was like being transported back to the early 90’s. The alliteration of his points was flawless. Seriously, almost every point started with a D, including the sub points. From one perspective, it was simply amazing. Eighteen Christmas trees adorned their stage.
It actually occurred to me that I could be attending a convention of retired CIA agents. Three piece suits, long rain overcoats.
The church was about conservative exclusion. Keep the other kids out of the sandbox so to speak.
I also sat in another church recently. This one went the other way. Invite everyone. Put a ton into the production of the show. Change sharing your faith to inviting people to church. Play with the lights to match the beat of the music. Dim the lights, pump dry ice through the air. Do a rah rah message. By rah rah, I mean read one maybe two verses, and then talk for forty minutes about things that have nothing to do with the verses read.
Lament the fallen state of mankind and the world. The sermon was a mix of self-praise for the preacher, his family and a group therapy session. As a therapist, I know a little bit about group therapy. Just sit in the people’s misery.
Never actually offer real hope. How does one move out of their crap?
I’m afraid we’ve lost our way.
We think we need to protect the message.
We think we need to make the message a show. We need to drum up excitement for it. We offer things that are never promised in the Text. (Those will be a different post).
We have lost our way.
The message is simple. And it’s amazing. Here it is:
God wants to have a personal relationship with you. The God of the universe wants to walk through life with you. He wants to offer you the best way way to live. That’s it. Love God, and love people.
We don’t need to make it better. It doesn’t need to be “made better.” It just needs to be repeated in words and in deeds.