Summary: I grew up thinking that Jesus must be emabarassed with this thing called church. The hypocrisy and fakiness led me to want to see something different. This sermon is my personal understanding of what i wanted the church to be.
Loving the Church
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There is a word that brings a lot of emotion when used. To some people it is a bad word and thoughts associated with it are pain, politics, division, hurt and disappointment.
That same word, to others brings to mind absolutely nothing emotional or inspirational. Instead it brings to mind boredom, ritual, “let’s get this over with,” purposeless and fakey.
This same word also unleashes hate in others. They hate the wordt, hate what it stands for, believes it exists to rob people and dupe people and control society. They would just as soon exterminate it and never hear the word again.
Some hear this word and think “club.” A place of a certain type of people, who do their type of thing and are reinforced with their type of thinking. They’re losers and should be separated from the real world.
To others that word brings a ray of hope, a strong sense of community, a positive element in a dark world, a place where love abounds.
Then there are those who, when they hear this word, sense mission, a conquering army, valiant heroes who lay down their lives for others, and they long for involvement.
What is that word that spawns so many different feelings? CHURCH!
And church has been all those things to me at some time in life!
I have been to liberal churches, formal churches, independent churches, charismatic churches, good churches that went bad and bad churches that went good.
I have been to churches where I was hurt, disappointed and churches that were great.
I have been to churches with organ music and churches with rock and roll bands.
Once I became a pastor I thought I would have the perfect church, only problem, I was there and I wasn’t perfect.
I grew up in a time when we were critical of the church. It was run by people who had positions based on money or influence and passed on their positions from generation to generation to their kids. I saw hypocrisy and a loss of mission. I saw a reactionary attitude toward anything new and different. I remember ladies with big hair and lots of Avon perfume that smelled strangely like maple syrup, men with powder blue suits with white belts and shoes, and glossy smiles that seemed to cover up something. What they sang, what they preached about, what they did and what they were seemed irrelevant to me.
That’s what the church looked like to me and I was a believer! A radical passionate believer!
And I am not alone!
• 66 % of our community doesn’t attend any church..
• Our culture says that the church is an inconsequential sideshow along the highway of the worlds traffic
• Sporting events and recreational events have become Sunday fare for people who once reserved this day as God’s day!
• The world looks at the church and says that we are falling way short of the supernatural lifestyle we proclaim.
I have grown up in a culture that increasingly has fallen further away from the church. The young 20 something’s go to church at a rate of about 6%!
Every church I went to the people thought that they were loving, and nice, and had a good thing going on. They enjoyed being with each other, the dinners were great, the special events seemed to meet some sort of need and the traditions brought stability and order to, peoples lives that were involved.
But right next door to the churches I went to were people who shared nothing in common with us!
- they were the indifferent
- the hostile
- the disbelieving
- the disinterested
- the demon possessed
- the defeated
- the depressed and addicted
In our eyes, the church was a safe haven. Our little fortress of people who were just like us. Those outside we called, UNBELIEVERS, PAGAN, LOST, HEATHEN. Translated that means…they scare us, they are a threat….
But I soon found out that even in the church we weren’t always safe. There were special tests that you had to pass to really prove yourself spiritual. Like:
- coming to church the Sunday night of the Super Bowl
- Being part of the ultra boring ladies group even though you didn’t want to be because you hated weaving baskets made out of old 2 liter bottles.
- Be able to say the closing prayer at any given service
- Faithful attendance to SS no matter what
- Never making waves by challenging what the church did or taught
- And never holding your ears when brother Bottomly sang out of tune that special song
- And wearing the right clothes, having the right length hair and enjoying the Gaithers!
So I wanted to be different. I wanted a church that would be different.