Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Christian Idolatry: worshiping the church
Or did you choose to not be part of the "church grind," in the first place, be it home church, shopping, sports or some other form of non-attendance?
It seems either one is "in" or "out" of "churchiness." Be it 100 member or 20,000 member church, one gets "in" a church with a fixed location [either a church owned property or leased property]. By being "out," one choose to not belong to any church at all!
So what is this churchiness that sucks you "in" [or spits others "out"]? As I have been thinking and blogging about church over the months, when my mother said "you need to attend church" it struck me that people are no longer worshiping God but has turned to worshiping the church: some singing, some droning and collecting money. And then, at some churches, we are asked to sneak in people we know through special ("seeker friendly") service or special events (illusionists, famous artists and athletes), as if God's truth needs to be watered down or twisted somehow.
What a contrast to the words in the New Testament. Jesus didn't go around asking His neighbors, "come hear xyz speak or perform." Instead, He commanded "come, follow me." And then before He left, He commanded His disciples to "make disciples of all nations" -- not herd or sneak others into "church." [I'm reminded of the stories like Philip (John 1:43-51) and Samaritan woman (John 4:28-30), but they all lead others to Christ, not "church."]
Jesus made clear what worship should be like:
Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:21-24Both the Jews and Samaritans were fixated on where worship should take place. Just as Christians today are obsessed with the format of worship (what kind of songs, how long of sermon, how much physical space to take, etc.) rather than the spirit of worship.
Unfortunately, we are beholden and enslaved to the churchiness worship of today. Most churches take on debt to finance the purchase of land and building and spend years paying it back. All churches have to deal with: money (utilities, replacing stuff, etc.), time (upkeep of the stuff of church: building, furniture, equipment, tools, etc.) and energy (separating the noisy children (esp. infants) from the quiet service, recruiting, coordinating and training volunteers to watch over children). And then you've got wonder what the whole day was about running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
So, what can be done about all this? I believe it's matter of getting back to the roots of the Bible: worship God in spirit and truth, not through man-made trappings (really, woman-made since churchiness is ever so feminized today, including Jesus). Get rid of the burden of buildings and their overhead (maintenance, utilities, insurance, cleaning and repair). Keep it personal, one-on-one with God and direct relationships with fellow Christians. Mass meetings are special, focused and infrequent (something like Promise Keepers or Billy Graham's evangelical crusade). Accountability should be done through discipleship: local meeting of elders with heads of household rather than the trappings of churchiness. Young men are to be trained to become fathers, grandfathers and then elders. Fathers follow the footsteps of the grandfathers and elders, living by example (for their young men). [How to deal with our mobile, global society of today is an issue I don't have an answer for.]
The kind of church which is talked about in the Bible seems more appropriate in home like settings rather than 20,000 seat auditorium: Exact format is not easy to imagine since I'm so used to the normal churchiness. Stay tuned....
Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.
[I was hoping to publish this sooner but got distracted by moving, etc. but the thread at Vox's "Of Pastors and Programmers" made me want to finish it off.]