Churchanity: the cult like practice of attending “church” three times a week merely to sing six congregational songs, give a laundry list of wants, needs, whinings and problems to God, hear two “special” songs, take up an offering, and sit through three sermons (spoon-fed to the congregation so no-one has to think)… and feel like we have been good “Christians” and worshipped because of it. Yeah buddy, we do God such a favor don’t we? Ummm-hum, that will cause people to grow won’t it? Grrrrrr!
It grieves my very soul to think that this milk toast, anemic, anorexic practice we call “Church” has anything to do with Jesus Christ. Where did we come up with this idea that every service has to be a lecture? Does anyone study his or her Bible? In the Synagogue we see Jesus and Paul, the Scripture was read and then it was discussed… The modern abomination is for the hired gun to mount the pulpit and lecture to everyone for 30-45 minutes and get out in time to be first in line at the restaurant. Sometimes a passage of Scripture is read, and then never referenced again in the lecture. Many times Scripture or a passage is merely used as proof text to under gird the point the “professional” is trying to make from the pulpit. (taking text out of context)
Then there is the idea that there is a difference in “Preaching” and “Teaching” as if there is an either/or aspect to them. This idea that Preaching is for the pulpit and teaching is for the Sunday school room is pure bunk! Most preaching is the hired gun spoon-feeding (or bottle feeding) the flock. There is no opportunity to discuss the “message” or sermon. It is accepted that the hired gun is on a higher spiritual level and a better “Christian” so he is above questioning and his word is “directly from the throne of God.”
Additionally there is the, “all we need to know is right here in our 1611 King James Bible! The 1611 was good enough for Saint Paul…it’s good enough for me.” (I have actually heard that statement “preached” by some Independent, Fundamental, Baptist preacher on a local “christian” radio show.) Then scripture is interpreted in light of 2009 instead of the century in which it was written.
In conclusion, if that is all there is to Churchanity, and we are not growing, and being educated in the Church about church history (good and bad) about doctrinal soundness and the differences between essential and non-essential issues… then we deserve to be ridiculed as cult members following a myth religion.
So what do we do? How do we make the change? How do we touch a world that sees these issues in us (who claim to be Christians) better than we do ourselves? How do we make a difference? How do we break away from “Churchanity” and show the world around us the Jesus Christ who is revealed in Scripture? How do we throw off the traditionalism of Churchanity and be true followers of Jesus Christ? I don’t want mediocre churchanity any longer, I want a radical world changing fellowship with fellow believers in Christ who are living Philippians 1:27-28, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”
It is a sad commentary that we look on the pews of our modern day churches as a “mission field”, which speaks volumes to our misconception of the Biblical Church mandate. We have watered down the Gospel to the point our churches are filled with lost people… who think they are saved… only to occasionally find out they aren’t. Modern Evangelistic methods have us inviting the lost to come to church where they will get under the sound of the hired gun [i.e. Professional Preacher] and get saved. We present such a weak anemic, anorexic version of the Gospel that everybody is saved… just ask him or her. That begs another question, “Why do we think we have to make the gospel presentation so over simplified?” Jesus never made it easy… look at how he addressed Nicodemus, or the rich young ruler. So the result is our churches are full of posers and wanna-be’s that are living a lie… I know I was one.
So where did we get this idea that three sermons or lectures a week constitutes going to “Church?
I may offend everyone but this idea that Church is just a lecture series doesn’t add up. More and more it seems that the lectures are the requirement for giving the pastor a paycheck. Or the other side of that coin, we are paying the pastor to preach and we expect him to preach… we want the three sermons we are paying him for. How much learning takes place in a lecture? Facts can be given and ideas communicated, and truth can be told… but it is limited one-way conversation! How does a pastor feed the flock and take care of it if all there is… is a lecture? If the pastor cannot have conversation with the congregation and answer the “Why” questions to at least the second degree… How can the average pew sitter learn to give an answer for the hope that is in them?
When did “Church” become this one-way conversation?
Someone asked me about 1 Timothy 5:18 stating it is proof for freeing the pastor from “from worldly labor, that he may focus on his teaching ministry.” Paul went to great lengths to support himself in the ministry, so I’m not sure he was advocating for the paid “Professional” preacher. Especially in the IFB and IFBx movements there has been too much abuse of the paid Professional position. This creates a slippery slope that becomes a vocation. And when you have a small church what does the “Pastor” do with all that extra time on his hands???
But I digress…
… where do we get the idea from, that attending three sermons a week (the lecture series) constitutes feeding the flock (or going to Church)? How can there be learning and growth in one-way only conversation? Don’t get me wrong, I have not arrived, I do not know it all and I appreciate good expositional preaching (hard to find in the rusted buckle of the Bible Belt) and I appreciate godly men who are apt to preach/teach. I am just fed up with what passes for “church” these days. Where is the, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” That takes a hands-on approach and may include lecture… but is not left exclusively to lecture.
I’m still wrestling with this issue and I cannot reconcile what passes for modern day church and modern day Christianity with what I find in the Bible. And I realize it starts with me… I’m having a Jacob moment here wrestling with what is and what ought to be.