I realized that it sounded like I was promoting one form of worship more than another.
I meant something deeper than that.
I tweeted earlier this week that “worship service has become more of a service to ourselves than a service to God.”
I truly believe that. We fight about music, about liturgy, about the length of services, about the content of the service.
Perhaps God’s word to Israelites through Amos applies to us today.
“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want. Amos 5:21-24 (The Message)
Do you think God really cares about what style of music we use in our worship?
Do you think God really cares about the drama that was used or not used in worship?
When we die and meet our creator, do you think God’s going to ask “So, explain why evil exists?” Or “How has your life experience effect your understanding of humanity and the human need for divine grace?”
Perhaps, it will be more in the line of “Where were you when I was hungry? Cold? In prison?” Or, who knows?
But we have so many meetings and committees about so many little things in the church. And often, it gets in the way of God’s mission. We have to have meetings to approve a motion, then we have to appoint a committee to that motion if that motion gets passed… and months have passed by.
What I was trying to get at, is as a church we need to stop expending so much energy and focus on ourselves. We keep looking inward and inward, at our needs and we start losing touch with the world that God loved SO much that God sent God’s Son to die for that world.
Then we have other meetings asking “How do we get outsiders into our church?” It might be easier to engage those “outsiders” than trying to figure out how they’re thinking.
The mission of the church isn’t maintaining an organization or paying mortgage.
In the beginning of Luke, after Jesus returns from the desert, he stands in front of the people of Nazareth, and opens the scrolls and reads this:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he says, “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
That was Jesus’ mission statement on the earth: To proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to the prisoned, to recover sight for the blind and to set those who are oppressed free.
Not to maintain membership roll. Not to fundraise to balance the budget. Not to bring more people into the pews of the church.
If that was Jesus’ mission, doesn’t it make absolute sense that as a follower of Christ, that should be our mission?
During the Change the World Conference at Ginghamsburg, Mike Slaughter said something that I haven’t been able to shake off: “If it’s not good news to the poor, it’s not the Gospel.”
Agree or disagree, that’s fine with me. But I’m tired of talking. I need to be held accountable to let my actions do the talking.
And if a church is on the verge of dying, have the church put faith in God that perhaps, God may provide. And then put their energy and love to the community that surrounds them. And go and serve the people as Christ would. If the Conference still closes the church, at least we were able to share the Gospel and love with those who need it. At least we went out with a fight and a bang. At least, someone in that community will miss the fact that this church is gone.
But, as I was told before at a district meeting, “you’re too young. Just wait until you get older and you’ll see.”
What will I see? I don’t know. But I guess I’ll find out .