Do you find that churches today are fairly polished and scripted in their presentation each Sunday? If you do, you’re not alone.
One of the things that was ushered in with the Seeker Sensitive movement in the church back in the 90s was new media, big screens, flashy videos, iron tight deadlines to programs and messages that go down real EZ. It all runs very smoothly don’t you think? Too smooth if you ask me. The system we have at most churches today is so smooth that it literally chokes out the presence of God and even rejects anointing it does not understand. And that’s understandable after all. You try fitting in a move of God into your power-packed Sunday services. You only have so much time for worship, announcements, dedications and, of course, the most sacred of all sacred things, the pastor’s sermon. I know, all the pastors out there are thinking, “You don’t understand. We have a parking situation! Good, Lord, what are they supposed to do about the parking?”
The Seeker Sensitive Movement is actually quite different from the way Jesus operated. The teaching of the rich young ruler taught us that Jesus wasn’t an appeaser. When the ruler approached Jesus and asked him how he could inherit the Kingdom of God, Jesus replied, “Sell all you own and come follow me.” As you know the young ruler left Jesus and did not do what Jesus asked. Nor did Jesus exhibit any insecurity by bartering with the ruler – hoping that by convincing him to sell only 10% of his wealth, instead of his entire fortune, that he might also convince him to stay. He simply let him go.
Now imagine a pastor doing the same thing. Today in most cases, we are unwilling to say and do the hard things in church, especially if it means that people will leave. For example, free expressive people will make reserved non-expressive people feel uncomfortable to the point they may threaten to leave. Should pastors tell the free people to take it down a notch or tell the reserved folks this might not be the place for you? I think all too often it is the latter. We are sacrificing the very people who are most passionate about God in exchange for trying to remain dignified, neat, presentable, predictable and most of all, non-controversial. The problem with trying to be non-controversial is that the definition of controversial is relative and subjective. Therefore one man’s freedom is another man’s jail. Doing certain things will be deemed controversial to some groups and not to others. So why even try if it’s true that you can’t please all the people all the time?
These days churches give out very mixed messages. In short, some churches have different standards for different days which suggests that principles are not very well grounded. For example, I have been in places where we feel fairly free and expressive on dedicated worship nights, but the same can’t be said for a Sunday. At the same time, some churches have different standards for who can operate in ministry on some days vs. others, meaning rules can become more lax depending on the day.
Our principles should be on display daily and be unchanging and unwavering. That’s why we call them principles. If we are all about freedom, it shouldn’t matter what day it is. If we believe that people should only be praying if they have been approved by leadership, then whether its a Tuesday or Sunday, it makes no difference. And the same goes if they have not been approved. We certainly don’t change our standards for childcare based on what day it is.
If we believe in bringing the presence of God, then we should be all about finding those who have the anointing for creating an environment that God wants to be in.
If pastors could just get free of the money bondage, the idol of feeling good about themselves and the prestige they desire, they would see how liberating it is. Jesus taught us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added on to you.” That goes for the corporate church too. Pastors are so afraid of being looked at or thought of as weird that we sit still, idle and all fully dignified but completely lacking in power and faith in our lives. Well, here’s a news flash to all Christians; Mormons can say that much! Do we really want to be like Mormons?
Behind it all is fear. That is all it is. Fear that people will leave or complain. But God did not give us a spirit of fear as we know, 2 Tim 1:7, but instead perfect love casts out all fear! If any of our decisions are based on what people think instead of anointing, forget about doing anything, we have missed God already. The Lord wants us to seek him, to love him, because that love casts our fears that hope is God instead of in the offering. If we do this, how people react to our decisions will be between them and God. We need not get tied up in knots over that. Instead we should be creating a place that first welcomes God and let him deal with the rest.
The time has come for the church take its eyes off itself and put them on God. If people are uncomfortable with freedom loving Christians who want to express their love for God with all their heart no matter how that looks, no matter how God manifests himself, no matter how undignified, then maybe they should leave instead of the other way around. Whatever happened to reaching for excellence in all we do and pulling people up to that level instead of bringing everything down to them?
The problem with church today is that we have too many dignified people who are prim and proper but all too religious. These same people are the ones who seem to be dictating to the rest of the church what is appropriate and what isn’t. Passionate Christianity needs to make a comeback in the American church. It needs to take the church back, period. Until that happens, Church will remain imminently dignified but ultimately powerless.