The Fray, Shane and Shane, David Crowder Band, Monk and Neagle, Switchfoot, Robbie Seay, Mat Kearney, Mae, Charlie Hall, Chris Tomlin, Andy Davis, Jack Johnson, Coldplay, Death Cab, Five for Fighting, Goo Goo Dolls, Justin Barnard, Ten Shekel Shirt, Kristian Stanfill, Michael Bleecker, Kirk Gentzel, Adam Crawford, Matthew James Band.
a question for your church
March 13 2006
Come Ye Saints??
Welcome everyone to the first content post of this blog: theology for your everyday life. Before I begin, I want to thank you for checking this out. A little about myself: I am a 23 year old student pastor in New Jersey, struggling through what it looks like to do ministry in this context, how to truly live a missional life, and how to lead my family: my amazing wife, and my -6 month old hanging out inside my wife.
If you have grown up in the church or you have been to a church worship service, chances are you have heard the hymn, "Come ye Sinners" by Joseph Hart. Chances are, you have heard the remake Robbie Seay, worship pastor at Ecclesia in Houston, did a few years ago. It's a great song and one of my favorite to sing especially the way Robbie does it. The song embraces the idea of Isaiah 55:1, "come to Me, all who are thirsty." Everyone is thirsty and needs to be changed and satisfied by Jesus. The song also says, "if you tarry, until you're better, you will never come at all..." The idea is that you can't fix yourself and then come to God. It just doesn't work that way. The Bible clear teaches that salvation is a work totally of God and that as a depraved sinner, you have no ability to "fix" yourself (Romans 3:9-12, John 6:44, Ephesians 2:8,9).
Here's the disconnect. How many churches in the United States today teach this truth, but in reality act very differently? Instead of challenging our members to live life on mission, we encourage them to invite others to a Sunday morning church service. Instead of calling believers to radically turn from sin, we enlist them in programs: i.e. choir, drama team, cooking for church member fellowships. By the way, I have no idea what i.e. means-it just sounds scholarly. Instead of focusing on transforming the world, we focus on church growth (not that church growth is bad in any way, but it is a means to an end, not the end itself). Instead of engaging anyone who is thirsty, we tend to focus on the economically privileged, because that is who most of the contributing members are. Instead of focusing on how we can equip our members to be sent out, we think about how we can "close the back door." Instead of calling believers to spend their life on the calling of the gospel, we encourage them to lead "quiet lives, horribly misquoting a passage in 1 Thessalonians. Instead of thinking about the community God has called us to and placed us in (Acts 17:26,27) we tend focus on our members and their needs.
The biggest problem I see with the current evangelism strategy of many churches is that it says, "come ye sinners" but means "come ye saints". Very few church services are truly places where sinners can come. Have you ever seen a stripper get off work Saturday night and come to church the next morning? I'm sure it's happened but the stripper probably concealed her identity.
In conclusion, this is the message that most churches are sending to non-Christians before they ever step into a church building: Come ye sinner, but fix yourself first. Take off your Budweiser t-shirt and put on a suit; shave and look happy, smiling the whole time you are there. Drink a whole bottle of mouth wash to hide the smell of smoke on your breath. When asked how you are, replace "I feel like s--- because I have a hang over" with "brother, I'm blessed". Even if you don't believe anything you see or hear, act like you do. Church is not a place for doubters, atheists, agnostics, homosexuals, and democrats, so don't be honest. Come ye saint...
March 13 2006
good stuff. i agree, churches are not as accepting as they should be. looking forward to the next post.
March 13 2006
I agree with a lot of that, but at the same time, church is not so much about bringing people into the "church" per say, but going OUT into Judea and Samaria and the world to tell others. I'm not disagreeing in that churches have made it hard for non-believers to come and be welcome, but I have been doing a bible study and one of the things that was mentioned was that non-believers will never really feel comfortable in a church unless that church is corrupted. How can a non-believer feel comfortable praising God? (which is what we're supposed to do at church) He just can't. None-the-less, this all has a point. I think there are fellowships and things Christians can do to expose non-christians to our faith and, dare I say, way of life. However, I feel that the aforementioned items: choir, drama team, and serious church member fellowships are not the appropiate place for nonbelievers to join. I know my youth group has what it calls "casual, connected, and core" groups, casual being the place to bring nonchristian friends to have a good time while learning about God. Likewise I can see a big group luncheon or food-oriented fellowship as the ideal place to invite nonchristians and expose them to what they're missing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to put down what you say in any way, merely expressing my own viewpoints on the subject matter. I hope to continue to read what you have to say. =)