“Make church the IN thing to do.” On. the. sign. out. front. The IN thing?! Seriously? The “IN” thing? I grew up in the 70’s. I remember when we talked about things being “IN” I mean, for crying out loud, I’m exactly the parent that Sesame Street was trying to “catch” when they did the “In with the In Crowd” song! (Does anyone else remember that?!! Really, it’s just as well. The elephant elevator operator is another story altogether, though.) 😀
Now, before you read another word, you need to know that this is going to be a rant. (Did you guess that from the title? Yeah, I thought so.) I am not going to try to cloak it as anything other than that. Out and out rant. Like Ivory – 99.44% pure…rant that is. So, if you’re not up for a rant – if you are feeling really grumpy already today, you better leave now. If however, you’re feeling like you’d like to tangle with someone – I may be just the person you’ve been looking for. So, bring it on Baby…. 😉
When I read the sign on the church last night, I was annoyed. But, I’ve been growing increasingly annoyed with church signs lately so I thought that this was just growing to be thrown into that pile in my brain of “annoying church signs.” Then….
Wait! Before I go any further I need to clarify the following things: I love the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Savior and my Lord. (Important distinction) My desire is to wholly live my life for Him and for His Gospel. I also love His Word, His Kingdom and His Bride. I love the Church and all that she is – I love that she is His Body in this earth. (As evidenced in my thoughts from yesterday…) BUT (and this is a REALLY BIG BUT – one t, thank you) I have little grace for empty religious form. (Possibly NO grace, even)
So, as this rant goes on, please don’t accuse me of being a church hater. I am not! I love the Body of Christ and would sacrifice much for her. (Hence: “love”) What I hate is passionless religion that has done nothing but sat on the shelf of tradition and then been heated up, by the addition of a few “worship songs”, and been re-served as being “in.”
This morning, after last night’s sign – and the rant that followed having seen it – I received in my inbox an invitation to…..(drum roll, please….) National Back to Church Sunday! Wooo Hooo!! I quote, “This year, an estimated 1 million “unchurched” and “dechurched” people will be invited to the special day.” Wow, way to preach the Gospel Church! One million unchurched or dechurched people will be ministered to on that ONE special day! That is….*sniff* touching. (Sorry – here’s a wipe, to get the sarcasm off your hands.)
Furthermore in this letter, we read: the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey showed that 83 percent of American adults identify themselves as Christians. In contrast, another survey that same year by the Barna Group, a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture, indicated only about 20 percent of Americans attend a church on any given Sunday. Twenty percent of the people who already call themselves Christian attend a church.
PLEASE CHURCH WAKE UP! If the people, who are already called by your name, will not spend time with you on a regular basis, how do you ever intend to reach the lost?! Or perhaps…you’re so busy reaching those who left that you don’t have time for the lost?!!!
What if we knew of a married couple that went by the same name, but CHOSE to only be together 20% of the time – that’s 33 1/2 hours per week….including sleeping hours….assuming that the normal individual sleeps 6 hrs per night, that’s 42 hours of sleep….subtracted from 33 1/2… that’s NEGATIVE 8 1/2 hours. When we see couples that want negative 8 1/2 hours of time together per week, we send them to a marriage counselor FAST. Why is it that the church can’t see that’s where they are heading?
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
HELLO CHURCH?!!! You have become what we have been told, by God, to avoid. You deny the power of godliness. You will not even stand up and declare that there is such a thing, let alone operate in it. When you eat from the local Chinese restaurant day in and day out, you’re gonna get fat and smell like chop suey! When, dear Bride, you eat from the smorgasbord of the world, rather than the Bread of life, you’re going to get fat and smell like the world. (Need a reminder what the world looks like – see above!)
Remember the old joke? If it looks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck – it’s a duck! Stop fooling yourself Bride-to-be…YOU look like the world. When you realize that, when you are ready to stand up and be who Christ has called you to be – regardless of the risks – when you are ready to love one another with the love of Christ – when you are ready to give your life to the Gospel and have a REAL encounter with the God of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac and stop holding onto religious traditions that are dead and without life – WHEN all that happens? Let me tell you who and what the Church will be….
She will be not only the IN place, she will be the ONLY place. When there was great darkness in Egypt, there was light in Goshen. People WANTED to be in the light. When we become people of the Word, who know the Word, and are living the Word, we won’t have to invite people to church – we’ll have to figure out where we’re going to put them all!
We ARE Jesus’ Body. He never had trouble drawing a crowd – so why should we?!!!