Friday, July 03, 2015
When I was a teen, I bought into the very fashionable assumption that the local church would only cramp my style and put a barrier to “authentic spirituality.” I stopped attending for a while until I got wind of a hip, cool church across town that was full of attractive, young, relevant people. The music was great, the preaching was edgy, and the atmosphere was exciting.I find it fascinating that he thinks the "local church" is the difference. I think relationships are the difference. Now granted, you cannot have relationships if church is too far away, but you can have relationships at some distance when you work at it.
For months, I drove all the way across town, nearly an hour each way, to attend services at the church that “got it.” It was a booming place, with six fully packed services each weekend. And if I arrived late, I was turned away because the fire department was keeping a close eye on the safety capacity.
It all ended for me one week, when the pastor said something that disturbed me. I remember it something like this:For those of you who come here every week thinking attendance makes you good with God, you’re wrong. Some of you are driving from the other side of the metroplex, and are not really connected to the church at all. If you’re just coming here, not involved in a small group, not serving with nursery, parking, or ushering — if you’re just here to hear the band or listen to me talk — go somewhere else. You’re a leech. And quite frankly, we could use your seat.That was a harsh thing for me to hear, but I can attest now that it was a most loving gift to me. That was my last weekend at that church, and I began searching for a local body where I could serve in a context of real relationships.
More Than Showing UpI continue to grow in my love for the local church. One of the ways God has grown my love for the church is by teaching me that worship is more than showing up.
I also think the mega-church, which churches that "get it" often are, also can make it very difficult to form relationships. But again, the key is relationships - not necessarily the church, or its locale.
This, I think is reflective of the modern age. Some today do not understand the difference between a genuine relationship and one created in the electronic world, and carefully controlled in the real world. Relationships cannot be controlled, they are wild and unpredictable things. That very lack of control is a big part of the issue. God is kind of the same way.
church relationship unpredictability