Summary: Does Church Matter?
"It's Only Church"
On a Saturday evening, last summer, while on vacation with my family, we were trying to decide where to go to church the next morning.
I wanted to visit one of the smaller churches in town, others wanted to worship at the bigger church in town.
We tried looking up some the smaller churches on the internet.
Like the majority of folks, we don't use phone books any longer.
The problem was, none of the smaller churches had websites.
So, we looked up the phone numbers and called.
None of the smaller churches we called had answering machines, with messages telling us when worship takes place...
...no strike that...
...one church had an answering machine saying that worship started at 10:30 a.m., but when we passed the church on the way back from dinner--their sign said that worship was at 9:45!!!
We didn't know which was correct.
So, we settled on the big church in town.
On Sunday morning we settled into our pews and the Scripture was about the woman pouring the alabaster jar of perfume on Jesus' feet.
The preacher got up in the pulpit and I took out my Bible and read along, and then I grabbed my pen and a piece of paper in order to write down any notes, and tidbits of spiritual insight that might be helpful in my walk with God.
I was on the edge of my seat.
I was hungry for the "Good News."
And, the sermon started out good...
...that is, there was a brief summary of the Scripture passage...
...something that someone might read in, say, a short Bible commentary.
This lasted about 30 seconds.
And then, the preacher started talking about the new choir director that the church had recently hired who would be starting work at the church sometime in August--and this was late June.
It wasn't as if the choir director was there.
It wasn't his "first day on the job."
He would be working at the church in a couple months.
They would meet him then.
For the next 30 minutes or so, the preacher basically read the resume of the new hire.
And he talked about the guy's family, and his experience.
He repeated himself a number of times, and went on and on and on about the choir director...
...who, again, wasn't even there.
The Reverend, had, obviously, put absolutely no effort or time preparing this sermon whatsoever.
It was as if he didn't care.
Terribly disappointed, I put my Bible away, closed my pen and sat back in the pew hoping, praying that he would get back to the Scripture at hand, or at least talk about Jesus.
I looked around at my Father-in-Law and he looked kind of depressed.
I took a peek at others in my group.
What were they thinking?
All I could think about was, "Thank you Jesus that I hadn't invited a non-Christian or un-churched person to come with me this morning.
They probably never would have wanted to come back to a church again."
When I later told a friend of mine about the experience, he said, "What if someone had showed up that morning, as a last ditch chance against committing suicide?
He would have left that place and jumped off the bridge!!!"
We all left that morning, terribly disappointed and a bit miffed.
We had tried to find out the worship times of several churches in the area--to no avail.
Then, we had sat through a service, which, appeared to have been a complete waste of time.
As we were discussing this in the car, I made the statement, "No wonder the churches are in decline.
No wonder people aren't interested in coming to church anymore. It's a wonder anyone bothers."
"They act as if it doesn't matter."
"It's as if they are saying, 'Oh well, it's no big deal. It's only church anyway.'"
But, it isn't "only church anyway!"
It does matter.
It matters a lot.
I believe that being active members of the church of Jesus Christ is the most important thing we can do.
It needs to be at the center of our lives.
It needs to be "who" we are and "who" we want to become.
After-all, it is the only hope for a world lost in materialism, sin, meaninglessness, depression, war, addiction, hopelessness, anger--you name it!!!
But, if the church acts as if, "Oh well, it doesn't matter--it's only church," well, what kind of message are we sending to a lost and dying world?
If the church doesn't put in the effort to make every Sunday the best and most important Sunday--Do we really believe that Jesus Christ is the hope of the world--the Way, the Truth, the Life?
"Where your heart is, there your treasure is also..."