A Travel Guide for Life, Faith and Relationships!
There’s a lot of talk nowadays about how the church in the United States is dead or dying. People point to all sorts of objective statistics or subjective opinions about why. You might imagine how I, as a pastor, find this of interest, and why I’ve invested a great deal of my time in researching this issue.
Frankly, the church has changed dramatically in the last 50 years or so. I grew up in the church. All my Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights were spent at church. Add to that events like Royal Rangers, youth group, choir practice and a potluck or two every month, and you can see how central the church was to my life.
Nobody played youth sports on Sunday. (I wasn’t even allowed to ride my bike on Sunday.)
No one would think of staying home from a church meeting to watch TV (not even football).
If the doors were open, we were there. End of story.
And here’s the thing: That was normal. Most of America went to church, and if you were an evangelical, you attended a lot. An awful lot (and sometimes it truly was awful).
I’m grateful for my heritage. The church provided a place to make friends that did influence me. However, few of those who attended church impressed me with their godly character (myself included).
Church was a building.
Church was an event.
Church was a religious and social activity.
And attending church was more of a habit than a way of life.
Church was something I did. Something I showed up to on a regular basis. Something I attended, but not something that profoundly affected me at home, at school or in the community I lived in.
Sadly, church attendance did very little for me or for anybody else as far as I could see. That may seem harsh or overstated. But my religious experiences and activities didn’t do much to change my heart or the way I lived.
It seemed to me, growing up as a church attender, that too many—far too many—were good at being self-righteous white-washed tombs and not so good at being like Jesus Monday through Saturday.
Maybe you can relate; maybe not. But here’s my point: No one should just attend church. Instead, we should be the church.
God doesn’t want us to be religious but truly righteous. He doesn’t want consumers but contributors. Jesus didn’t call us to just attend a church building once a week. He challenged us to become a force that changes our world.
So, please don’t show up for church meetings, sing a few songs, listen to some guy or gal talk, drop a few bucks in the offering, glad-hand a few people, and then leave as if that were church.
Sitting in your seat (and you do have a spot that’s yours), consuming some more “spiritual” food, and even clapping a bit doesn’t make you an effective disciple or follower of Jesus.