I like to go to my daughter and jokingly rattle off as many funny names, or text-talk abbreviations as I can. “What’s up girlfriend!? Hey homeskillet! LOL! ROFL! Am I right?” It drives her crazy. “Dad you’re so old. What’s wrong with you?” Haha! I always get my desired responses. There are also other times where I’m not trying to be funny and she looks at me like I’m old and just don’t get it. Those are the times where the actual disconnect comes into play unintentionally. I still think I’m cool and relevant, but she “humbly” disagrees.
Most everything seems to go through various changes and trends over time. The church is no different. In previous times going to church was more popular. It was more sociably beneficial. It’s not so much today. Church trends have gone from whole families attending to now churches strategizing how to reach the fathers, so that the families will come back. The church has gone from Sunday school to home groups. The church throughout the years has strived to figure out the best way to break the downward spiral of attendance. In so doing it has looked at business models, mega-church models, to now more of home church models. The only thing that appears to be a constant is that it is always going to change. So the church, in its never ending pursuit to stay relevant, looks as if it will be one step behind.
I’m reminded of Jesus’ words to the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither cold nor hot—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” From what we understand about this church, they had money, everything seemed to be going good, and if they were here today, they would probably be the goal for many other churches. Whenever I read this, or think about the idea of a lukewarm church, I picture a church that is biblically anemic on any stance. They don’t want to offend anyone and because of that, they will do whatever it takes to keep the money flowing, and the seats filled.
Let’s be honest. I could sit here and talk about more problems in the church and bring up specific stories that many of us have had in church that were wrong. There is enough of that going on. We shouldn’t set out to publicly tear down the church and point out its many flaws so the world can look on us like a slow moving train wreck. So what should we do? This week I was reading in Psalms and was reminded of the type of attitude we as followers of Christ—the church—should have towards, well, the church. David said in Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.” This was later seen in Jesus when he had a very passionate, righteous outburst in the temple courts when He turned over tables and drove people out who were there just to make money.
Maybe all of the research and attempts to be relevant, can cause us to lose our connection with God. Don’t misunderstand me. I am all about researching the area where we do ministry. I love talking to people in and out of the church to learn about them and why they go, or don’t go to church. I think you can learn a great deal from someone who has stepped away from church, or had terrible experiences in unbiblical churches. But what I am continually hearing from people is that they are not looking for some of the bells and whistles, or flashy circus acts that we think. They want connection, family, and truth. And while that last one may be a little flexible for some, they’re still drawn more to the actual biblical example we have.
Do people see our zeal for everything God? I mean, do they see a passion for God as a lit, consuming fire that is raging out of control in us? The times will change. There will be more trends and many more “this is it’s” that we will be told we have to do to bring in people. But I’m convinced that wherever we are, or where God calls us to do ministry, zeal for God has to be the centerpiece of who we are. People will be drawn to that. You can’t help but be drawn to someone, or a group of people whose whole lives and every fiber of their being is described as on fire for God and totally consumed with Him.