ME, You and Church. Part I, The Alien Warrior laments
What is the real role of the church in a Christian’s life? Today when we go to church we don't even sing much anymore. There is a band that gives as an A & B special they have rehearsed for a few weeks and then we sit down to hear a sermon, tithe and go home, all in one to two tidy hours. On one occasion in Acts, the Apostle Paul taught from morning until midnight and Eutychus fell asleep and dropped dead from a third storey window and had to be miraculously revived.
We have even had people come to church to tell us how to vote, how the Supreme Court is messed up, how our kids can't pray in school, how to have a happy marriage and raise holy kids etc. Our church once had a seminar on how to plan a good vacation. Someone came to our church once and tried to equate the US army in Iraq with God's work in that country. I am not complaining. I am just asking questions.
In the last five minutes of a church service, even when the issue is very secular, gears are suddenly switched and a passionate appeal is made for folks to come and be saved and join the church. We usually sing "Just as I am without one plea" and are asked to close our eyes; keep our heads bowed with no movement. A couple of serious looking deacons come up to receive the lost and now found.
I must admit that I am becoming increasingly very disillusioned with church and I have found myself sneaking out quite often- with my wife’s knowledge- to visit other churches on my own to see what is going on there. I am not looking for a new church but just an occasional difference in style of worship and I must confess the Charismatic churches are always more exciting.
Back to my original poser, what is the local church to today’s Christian? Is it (still) a place for us to go, get empowered and go out to serve the Lord? Or is it a place for ME to be ministered to, a play to care of my needs and because I am dissatisfied with the service I am getting I have come here to complain to my brothers. Have we gone too far in catering to the need for a good mental experience in the hope of attracting people to our churches and are we relying less on the work of Holy Spirit?
I have a sneaking suspicion that if the church went back to basics our membership rolls will rapidly plummet as people seek out what they want to hear, just as Paul warned Timothy about the latter times. We love to make little digs here and there at Robbo’s former Roman Catholic connections (I suspect he is still a closet Catholic anyway) but look at all the little infallible popes springing out all over the place. They just call themselves Bishop or Doctor instead.
But this is not about doom and gloom. I actually feel that the real church of Christ is operating secretly in our present day churches and you have to look for it to find it and then avail yourself of its resources. Did Jesus not often warn his disciples to be vigilant and not be found sleeping? I don't see things changing but I think we can help ourselves and our kids by diligently seeking out the true church in every congregation. I have found that in most churches that adhere to the basic principles of the Gospel and to the fundamental doctrines, you will find the real church of Christ operating silently and empowering people for service- Alien Warrior.