RAMBLINGS FROM THAT GUY
I feel like that guy! You know that guy, the one that sticks out like a sore thumb, the one that is just a little bit different and doesn’t go along with the rest of the pack. Who am I? I am a 38 year old man being led by God to start a new church. Because of that calling, I have recently been reading books and magazine articles about ministries around the country and how innovative pastors are leading more and more un-churched people through the doors of their churches. These stories are usually well written, inspirational and insightful. However, I am confused. I am confused because my soul continues to be conflicted with each passing article.
First, I must say praise God that people who have never been to church before are now coming through the doors in many communities to hear the good news of Jesus. I know that this is a good thing (or should I say God thing). But I think I am going to spiritually vomit if I hear one more pastor or ministry leader write that our churches today need to be culturally relevant, that it is important to keep up with the changing times. Now, I am not trying to be difficult here or sound holier than thou but isn’t God already culturally relevant? Hasn’t he always been culturally relevant? And isn’t He the reason the church exists to begin with? I am told that I must continue to make my church attractive. You know, get them in the doors with contemporary music, video screens, pod-casting, etc. (culturally relevant). I am not against any of those things and I don’t think God is either But isn’t Christ attractive without any of those things? I am constantly told that I must compete with the world, use the things of the world if I am going to get people out of the world. Since when did Christ need to compete with anything or anybody? And what the world needs is not more of the world. They need something that is different, something that stands out, something that stands alone. They need Christ!
It seems as though our present day church culture takes the position of “get’em in the doors and we will get’em saved.” Now, I know that true Bible believing, vine abiding pastors and ministry leaders would never say this or truly believe this. But isn’t this in essence what is happening? I just wonder at what point did we give up on people; truly transformed Christ followers (you know people) to BE the church and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever they are? Most everything I read these days is about being the church so we can invite unbelieving friends TO the church. As I hear it said, there they will be comfortable and accepted, you know the come as you are principle? I do believe that Jesus wants us to come to Him as we are but through what I call the Philip principle?
In John 1:43-46, Philip is called by Jesus to follow Him. Philip then goes and finds Nathanael to tell him that he has found the Messiah. Did Philip invite Nathanael to his church? No. He invites him to Jesus, to sit in the presence of Jesus himself! Philip found Jesus and he wanted Nathanael to find him as well. To my untrained mind (what little mind there is) it seems as though that same principle had applied for centuries throughout the Bible. People found God and then lived out a Godly faith life telling other people about the wonders of God and what He had done. God was enough! Supernaturally God brought them to faith where they surrendered to Him. But yet today, we say that the church must be culturally relevant to attract unbelievers. What about simply teaching the truth and holiness of God (the never changing truth and holiness of God) and allowing Him to bring them to Himself without church being their first stop?
I can guess what you might be thinking right now, “Oh that Greg is old fashioned, stuck in his ways and not a very innovative thinker.” I might even be called boring! But what I find so funny is that I only came to Christ eight years ago at the age of 30. I am not coming at this from the perspective of someone who grew up a Christian all my life and just stuck in my “all my life” Christian ways. I was attracted to Jesus because I saw Jesus being lived out in people around me every day. These people were different than the world and never hesitated to confront me with truth and the good news of Jesus Christ. They never invited me to church or brought me to church. They brought the church to me. They brought the living, breathing, active church (Jesus living inside each of them) right to where I was. Not the other way around. It wasn’t “come as you are.” It was “I will come where you are.” That is what changed me. And, I am convinced that because we don’t see people in our congregations actively doing this today, we have given up on them and have instead replaced them with a place, a building, a program, that can let them off the hook and do the work for them.
Now, the Holy Spirit has given me enough wisdom to understand that God can work in all ways, through all means necessary to reach the lost. And I understand that my salvation experience may not be the same for everyone. However, I am genuinely holy discontented that these well meaning, Christ following, called out pastors and ministry leaders have forgotten their first love and forgotten that it is all about Jesus. No gadgets, no gizmos, just Jesus (Jesus + NOTHING)! The place we meet and call church is a wonderful place to be. It is the place where we can come to be encouraged, taught, prodded, built up and then sent out to pursue Christ and those that don’t know Christ. But, I don’t believe that it was ever intended to be the place to invite our friends so they can get saved. This is Christ’s job working in and through us each day; the mobile church. These churches shouldn’t have to worry about being culturally relevant. If they are teaching Jesus and Him crucified and resurrected, they ARE culturally relevant. This message will always be relevant!
I know that many of you at this point have dismissed my ramblings as crazy talk from a guy that may be out of touch with modern society (that is if you have even finished reading to this point). But hey, I warned you at the beginning, I am that guy!