“For a lot of people …”I’m not really into organized religion,” pretty much means …. “I don’t really like to wake up early on Sundays.” Come on … get out of bed and go to worship … you’ll be glad you did.”
I kind of sighed when I read it, partly because I feel misunderstood, and partly because I was reading it on a laptop while I was still in bed.
I don’t think I would have responded at all had I not continued scrolling down my newsfeed and read Jim Palmer’s status, “20 Mistakes I Made As A Senior Pastor.”
Putting church over community.
Putting orthodoxy over love.
Putting certainty over wonder.
Putting teaching over conversation.
Putting polished over real.
Putting answers over questions.
Putting membership over friendship.
Putting Christianity over Christ.
Putting knowledge over action.
Putting style over substance.
Putting appearance over authenticity.
Putting functionality over beauty.
Putting religion over spirituality.
Putting holiness over humanity.
Putting accountability over acceptance.
Putting heaven over earth.
Putting reputation over risk.
Putting charisma over compassion.
Putting the Afterlife over the Herelife.
Putting thinking over feeling.
For me, there has been so much an emphasis on attending a 90-minute meeting on Sunday Morning under the disguise of it being holy, that it is very hard for me to attend. I have too much baggage myself from chiding people to give financially to an institution and telling them they are fulfilling scripture and are giving to God. It simply isn’t true. I never want to be a part of another church that counts the attendees each service and tracks the numbers to understand membership trends. I will throw up if I ever hear another pastor say how much you will lose out on by missing even one Sunday in the month. Honestly they should miss a few services and see what else is happening in their community and their world.
I think people need real, Christian community in their lives and it doesn’t come so easy as an hour and a half meeting where somebody else is doing all the talking and sharing.
To be honest I really do respect local church communities. I’ve visited 25 of them nearest to my home just to understand my neighborhood and my neighbors better. I understand the comfort of routine, and having a place to go where people know your face and your name without having to use name tags. I too love the feeling of being invested with others in something that is bigger than what I can do on my own. I love heritage, sometimes too much, but I think it is what makes me passionate about this topic.
No, I won’t be darkening the doors of a church service this morning. I am not in the mood to sit through a set of songs, some announcements and pleas for help, a gathering of ‘tithes’ and offerings, and a 45-minute message without discussion.
I am heading to a coffee-shop with my wife and kids. Because of our schedules this week, this morning was the best time to gather together to talk, laugh, connect, and eat cheap, day-old pastries. A few others may be joining us, not because it was regularly scheduled for them to attend, but because we missed their faces and invited them.
Okay, my rant is over. I just know that I want to lean to the right in that column that Jim Palmer wrote. If I could do that in the organized church I would be there this morning. But I got way too robotic about the left side and felt I was serving something we had created ourselves. That isn’t worship to me.