“What is wrong with church today?” Whether a question or a statement, it leaves me feeling uneasy.
Recently I pulled a Podcast where the host ticked off his list of the current failings of churches, a list that ranged from a flawed theology to clubishness. And I get it. But to stop there seems premature.
For I know this … I am part of church that does many things right. We are blessed with a theology that doesn’t trip on many of the normal places where contemporary Christian theology can easily fall. We hold deeply to a loving God, manifested in Christ who shows us how to live in such a way that will return us to our truest God given selves, a self made in God’s image and likeness. An angel.
We are likewise blessed with a congregation that shares a clear un-clubishness as well as a service orientation. Rarely do we struggle with getting volunteers to help the many non-profits we are connected with. And we are blessed with many wonderful and welcoming small groups.
We likewise have great music – if I do say so myself – maybe the best of any local church. And the preaching – because of its team-based approach – is highly relevant, God centered and maybe even on a rare occasion inspiring.
There is little, if one goes by the Podcast list, not to like. We simply have addressed many of those flaws, flaws well known in the church world for the past two decades.
And yet growing this church is a constant struggle as a well as a constant blessing. We have grown, slowly and steadily. And it has taken immense work to do it. Three steps forward, two steps back.
So what gives? Why so hard?
What I think “gives” is this. Churches and the pastors who lead them hold much responsibility for their demise, a demise that marks make growing a congregation challengning. And that does not leave the other half of the equation free from responsibility either … society at large, congregations, people.
I love the way Miroslav Volf puts it. Volf notes that we act a great deal like the “last man”, a “last man” who in a completely secularized world has finally “invented happiness” and so is…
Weary of great striving
Obsessed with comfort and safety
Dreaming petty dreams
Enjoying unsubstantial pleasures
Entertaining ourselves to idiocy while imaging ourselves the measure of humanity
Those are harsh words but maybe we need to hear them. I can certainly say at the very least I need to hear them. And maybe we need to hear them because part of all of us knows better. Knows there is a focal point beyond the mundane realities where our souls soar. Where love is present and forms the very ground of reality. Where joy permeates lives in such a way that we feel the true freedom of lives both lifted beyond and at home with circumstances, circumstances that are often dark.
What is wrong with Church today? We are. As a whole.
And what is the remedy? We are. As a whole.
There is so much here folks. Christmas Eve. A divorced mom separated from kids for the Holidays. Invited to dinner after the service by another family. That brings to tears. That is caring and concern and sacrifice and love and joy. It is Christianity at its glowing best. That small miracle – beyond an invented, entertainment-doused happiness. The real deal.
Join us in 2016. We need you.