Most of us have been at the same church for a long time. We join a church for a lot of reasons, the majority of them not really the best. We join because it’s our parent’s church, it’s the church our wife went to in college, it’s the church your buddy Mark joined when he came out of rehab, it’s the church you drove past the day you first looked at your potential new house, or, it’s the one you went to in need of solace on some dark day in your life and you stayed.
So, what do you think about your church? I’m betting that you don’t think much about it at all. Most likely you show up every Sunday morning for an hour or two, take the family out to lunch after the service, have vague feelings of warmth toward your pastor/priest/rabbi/guru and don’t give it much thought beyond that little percentage of your week. You don’t go to Bible study on Wednesday (that’s for the “hard-core”) and the odds of your being there on Saturday morning for the men’s group meeting is almost nil. You’re snoozing in after a long week.
If you’ve been nodding your head, just hang in there. I’ll be getting to you in a minute. If you’re miffed at the arrogance I’ve displayed, can you answer this one question: What was last Sunday’s sermon about?
Huh. So, no answer, eh? Don’t feel bad. Some pastor’s run out of material on occasion and it may have been a dull week. Can you give me a brief synopsis of the sermon on any Sunday in the last month. “Being good and loving God” does not count as an answer.
Those of you with a perfect score so far can move on to your day now, no need to read any further. You’ve been blessed with a great church experience. Lucky you!
However, many of us fail that last quiz. Let’s dig a little deeper. I promise you there is a point to this beyond “let’s make the reader feel bad.”
Is church where you go on Sunday? Or, do you go to a worship service at a church? Do you look forward to hearing the message each week, or are you a “social Christian” who’s there for “Donut Sunday” and the Big Party when the championship game falls on a Sunday and the congregation puts out chips/dip and the big screen television?
Are you there because of a sense of obligation? You’re a Christian in search of nothing, just there because you knew from your youth that it was expected in life. You feel nothing special, don’t know the names of any of the people around you, don’t care that you don’t tithe (after all the church has oodles of money, right?) or help out at the various events at the church. You warm a seat, check the box and head home to work in the yard every week, mission accomplished. You’ll get into Heaven no sweat, you have perfect attendance.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. God wants us to be happy in that pew. He pretty much expects that that 1.19% of our week we’re in church is just the “…two or more gather together in My name” part of the equation. A vibrant, Christ centered life is the goal. Is your church a hindrance to this ultimate objective?
What if you went to a church where you really loved the place? What if you were motivated to listen to Christian radio in the car and nothing else? What if you were disapointed when Bible study got cancelled due to the weather? What if those women in the church’s Women of Worship group were your best friends and you had a relationship outside the church with those in the church that fostered your spiritual journey?
Give that a moment’s reflection if you would. I’ll wait.
That got you thinking didn’t it? Perhaps the thought was, “I don’t have time for that kind of stuff. I’m way too busy.” With what? Your bowling league? Watching reruns of old Delta Burke shows? Trust me, Jack Lord made it through to the end of every episode of Hawaii Five-O and you don’t have to coach him from the couch.
Isn’t your eternal salvation more important than some thing here in this very brief life? I think it is very much the priority you need to have, and to start working for right now. Don’t waste that 1.19% of your week any longer.
You’re probably reading this on the web. Open a new tab, and search for “awesome choir & church & (your town)” or whatever you’re looking for in a church. Play with it. Visit websites, watch those videos on Youtube, call the church office and ask about their location, ask your friends about the church they attend.
And then go visit. I’m not advocating “church hopping” by any means. But if you’re bored, miserable, there by habit, and not really caring beyond “checking the box” what are you really getting out of your valuable time with God? Probably nothing. He sees you texting during the sermon. He knows you’re really wondering how that woman four rows away gets away with her hideous wig (you’ll still wonder that at the next church, but hopefully it won’t be the focus of the whole two hours you’re in the pew.) He hears your brain shutting down as you fight sleep.
Pick a church out of your comfort zone. If you attend an inner city church, find some mega church in the suburbs and check it out. If you’re parked at a boring little church in the suburbs, find an inner city church with an amazing band(the church scene in “The Blues Brothers” really exists.. I’ve been there.) If you’re a Catholic, find a Missionary Baptist Church and check it out. And to my Baptist brothers and sisters, go to the Cathedral and check out a High Mass.
We all learn from other parts of the church. If you view God’s church as a shopping center you might just be comfortable at the anchor store on the far side of the mall from the quirky little shops that sell crafts. If you lurk in the food court, the bowling alley up in the top level is alien territory. All of us are at the mall, we just spend our time there differently.
Find a church, make a visit. You don’t have to stay past one service. If you feel guilty about skipping your regular service, find a church where you can go to their service as well. I promise you it will make you feel good. If you find something better than what you’re currently doing, it might just be the spiritual awakening you’ve needed. You might continue that search until you find the home God wanted you to have in his body. If you’re blown away at how much you really do appreciate your home church, well it’s a blessing. Now you know and you can rededicate yourself to that place and those people.
This week, break out of your rut. Hope to see you Sunday. I’ll be on the left side toward the back singing along off-key. And loving every minute of it! I did this search 18 months ago and haven’t regretted my new home since I found it right here in my back yard. I find a joy in The Lord I hadn’t felt in a long time. I look forward to every Bible Study, every service and to more in the future. I pray you find that joy in your life.