Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God~ 1st Corinthians 10:31b-32
I am a big believer in the local church.
The local church is where unbelievers have their consciences awakened, find truth and become believers. Church is where baby believers study, grow, and become strong in the faith and where mature believers can share the wisdom and knowledge they have acquired along their own faith journeys.
A good local church is much more than just a place to go for an hour on Sunday mornings. Best-case scenario, church is a support system for families, a place to meet like-minded people, a training ground for kids and teens and just an all-around invaluable resource no matter your age or stage of life.
All that being said, our latest move has prompted a church search that has tested my patience with how Americans do church these days. I have in fact acquired more than a few pet peeves where church is concerned (more on that later).
A few of my peeves are basically just matters of personal preference, and therefore of no real significance. Some, doubtless, reveal an age related bias and are, truth-be-told, at least marginally ridiculous. However I believe others expose a potentially dangerous shift in the way we do church these days.
This list of personal annoyances is mine alone and is not meant to offend. Nor is it intended to be an exercise in church-bashing. Rather, my objective today is to get all of us, whether we be a leader or a layperson to think about what we do and why we do it in the church; and what each of us can do to make church the place God intended it to be.
So without further ado, here’s my list:
Admittedly, this peeve almost certainly falls into the category of age-related and petty; nevertheless I cannot believe I’m alone in my bewilderment over this trend. I think the fog is meant to give the worshipper a sense of the ethereal. To me the fog feels weird and spooky, like a haunted house. It also smells bad.
Pitch-black worship centers-
Seriously, I just don’t get this one. Aren’t there like a dozen different verses that command us to step out of darkness and into God’s light? Doesn’t the Bible say that God is light and in Him there is no darkness? So, then someone please explain to me why on earth we worship the God of light in total darkness?
Lack of opportunities to learn-
On our short list of requirements for a new church is some sort of in-depth, systematic Bible teaching for adults and kids. For eons Sunday school was the preferred medium for such instruction. In recent years Sunday school ceased to be cool and has been replaced by “home groups” “service opportunities” and “doing life together”. I understand that Christians are commanded in Scripture to serve their community and do life together. I also believe Christian friendships are a vital piece of our spiritual growth process that should not be neglected- but neither should doctrinal instruction and corporate Bible study.
Information centers totally lacking information-
The whole concept of a centralized location where visitors can go and learn more about the church is great in theory. However the system only works in practice if the folks stationed in the information center know at least at little something about what’s going on at church they attend.
Speakers who refuse to say the thing that is begging to be said-
Over the course of the last few months I have watched in dismay as Pastor after Pastor have danced over or have done some sort of oral acrobatics in an attempt to sidestep what the biblical text says. I wish Pastors would be a little less timid about saying hard things when the text calls for it. God put it there because He knew there would be times people needed to hear it.
I don’t have an issue with the whole notion of greeters per se; although I have observed that in many churches the only folks who talk to anyone are those people wearing name badges. Churches would do well to lose the badges and make everyone a greeter or keep the badges and give one to everybody.
Sometimes I think the modern church has all but forgotten the purpose of church. The Church should not be a business and does not exist to entertain the masses or accommodate the personal preferences of individual Christians. The Church was intended to be a living entity that is altogether separate from the world and it’s way of doing things. The Church exists for the purpose of making God look good and training believers to evangelize the world and do the work of ministry. All the rest is just smoke (pun intended) and mirrors.