First of all, let me say that I am NOT a proponent of people changing churches because “they are not getting fed.” Or in other words, THEIR needs aren’t getting met. I would like to think that I’m beyond that in my search for a new church home, but who am I kidding…it’s always about me. I’m as much of a consumer as anyone else, and churches today don’t feel much different, it’s just another “product.” Sadly, we don’t go to church to give something back or to worship, we go to get something out of it and if the “product” doesn’t live up to it’s packaging we move on to someplace else that can give us what we want. And if nothing ever meets our criteria for what we consider a good church, then we will keep moving around hoping to find that “perfect” church until we become nothing more that church hoppers.
Perhaps I’ve grown cynical or disillusioned, perhaps I’ve grown cranky in my old age, or perhaps I’ve just grown tired. I don’t know. My friend Smitty mentioned that a lot of people are looking for a “new way” to do church, and maybe she’s right. But my problem is I’m not sure what a “new way” means. Every church we’ve visited claim to do church in a “new way,” but it’s not much different from church to church. I think what will finally click for us is the Holy Spirit revealing where we need to plug in and serve. She also mentioned that perhaps we all should just start our own church, but we’d wind up doing church in an old “new way.” You know they have cowboy churches, biker churches, people who like to drink beer churches, and churches for people who are tired of denominational churches. I like Matt’s list:
The Sporty Church
The Too Many Kids Church
The Leftish Slackers Church
The Jean Skirts and Braids Church
The Scary with Way Too Many Banners in the Sanctuary Church
The Don’t Get Me Started On The Crazy Guy In The Pulpit With a Short Tie and a Large Belly Church
So perhaps I’ll start a church for the people who don’t know what they want.
Now on to the comments about pastors. I never intended to offend ANY pastor or staff member – or any pastor’s wives. That is one job I wouldn’t have for all the money in the world. If you haven’t read what Dan said in the comments, check it out – he makes some very interesting points. I personally think it would be a pain to minister to someone like me, and the church is full of people just like me – whiney, spoiled consumers.
And Eduardo, I agree with you. I would NEVER, EVER presume who or what God can use. I was talking about pastors moving around at the whim of denom hierarchy more tongue and cheek. Pastors and staff members need to go where they feel God can use their talents the best. And for those pastors and staff members who work within a hierarchical structure, they either have to trust that their superiors are sensitive to God’s Holy Spirit and know what is best, or they need to get out.
I also think Brian Bowen had a very good point when he spoke to the issue of pastors moving every 2 – 3 years: “But what we have discovered is, when a pastor comes in with new innovative ideas, the local body never buys into it. WHY? Well, because they know he’s only gonna be there a couple years. So why change everything upside down and get all uncomfortable when this guy is not gonna hang around to work through it all.” I’ve known pastors and church staff members like that; they are only there until they can get a bigger and better church. Nothing wrong with that, we all want to be recognized in our chosen fields and advancement is one way we get that recognition. And who’s to say that God didn’t bless this minister’s ministry with “more?” Certainly not me, especially after I just got my promotion. 😉
Being church today is a complex thing, whether you are on the full-time paid ministry side or the part-time volunteer ministry side. I don’t speak for all those who are seriously searching for God knows what, or the staff members who have to deal with all those people who are searching for God knows what. I speak only for myself. And if I could figure out what it means to do church in a “new way” I’d be all over that. I like how John put it in the 2nd chapter of Acts (from the Message):
“They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around was in awe – all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.”
1st Century Christianity vs. 21st Century Consumerism. *sigh*