This blog starts with a warning😁. This blog is not intended to start a debate, among my Christian friends, on whether or not the consumption of alcohol is a sin. If you believe it to be a sin, by all means, don’t do it! And that’s all I have to say about that. Now, let’s get this party started!!
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had lately, with many different types of people, about how dissatisfied they are with church. Some of them just want to be heard. Some of them were disregarded by their church family. Some of them are sick of the politics. The list goes on and on! And the sad thing is, as I’m listening to these stories, I can offer no consolation.
I’d love to tell people that being a part of a loving, Christ-centered establishment would always be giggles and gumdrops! I’d love to tell you that when you walked through the doors of a godly, spirit filled establishment that no one in there would judge you. I’d love nothing more than to to tell you, that when you stood on stage and pledged to be part of a family, that your very own family members wouldn’t be the ones to chew you up and spit you out. I’d love to tell you that your pastor, you know, the one you look up to, would never let you down; or even that everything he said was completely accurate. I’d love to assure you that the very institution that God intended to bind people together, and to strengthen community, would do what it’s supposed to do, but sadly, I can’t.
I’m not a professional church hopper, and I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on anything! However, I listen to people. I hear story after story of those being hurt by the church. I could sit here and list my own experiences, but I won’t bore y’all with all those gory details. I’ve seen and heard countless examples of people not being able to do things they felt God had called them to do, because it didn’t fit the image of the church. When I encounter people, from all walks of life, and these are the stories I hear most????? Y’all, there’s something wrong with this picture.
I will confess, that when it comes to church I’m, to say the least, dissatisfied. I seriously thought it was just me, and my rotten attitude! Admittedly, I’ve not had the best outlook on a lot of things in the last few years. However, when I continuously hear story after story, from so many people, maybe it’s not all me?!? I’ll say this, the best church I’ve experienced lately, was sitting in a bar, sharing a drink with a couple 27 year old guys.
One night some friends and I went to hang out at their favorite bar and grill. Tina and I took a seat at the bar and ordered a drink. Any time I go to a place like this, I survey the place and see if there are any other people there my age. I mean, no one wants to stick out like a sore thumb, right? Sitting right next to me are these two young men. They looked to be about my son’s age. Now, if I’m sitting at a bar, the chances of me striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to me are extremely high. Just ask any of my friends! I don’t care who you are, if you’re sitting next to me at a bar, I’m going to talk to you whether you like it or not! I don’t care what race, religion, age, gender, sexual preference… I don’t even care if you’re a Democrat, I’m going to talk to you. (If that last one offended you, get over it! Clearly I joke!) So we start talking with these guys. They’re very intelligent, cute young men. My friend, Mark, said one of them looked like an out of work porn star😂. I don’t think that was a compliment, but Tina and I thought they were precious!
It ended up just being me and one of the guys talking. Turns out he was the same age as our son. I found it cool that we could have such a great conversation, considering the age gap. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves in an in depth conversation about God and religion. He told me he used to go to church, and that he had tried the whole Christianity thing, and what he had decided was that, he couldn’t quite figure it out, so now he was agnostic. Believe it or not, I mostly listened. For one thing, he was young, I didn’t want to shut him down. Just from listening to him, it sounded like that deep down he still believed. Some people are just too smart for their own good sometimes, you know what I mean?
He listened to my beliefs and respectfully disagreed. He mentioned again that he just couldn’t quite wrap his head around it all. I told him that if we were all knowing, we wouldn’t need a savior in the first place. It was like a light bulb went off for him and he said, hmm, I guess you’re right. All I can hope is that I planted a seed, and that this young man would come to, not only believe, but to really know Christ! That was the coolest thing to me! We literally had church right there in a bar!
Thinking back on this experience got me to thinking. Maybe churches just need to go back to the basics and stop trying to copy some mega church? What if we stopped being about numbers and simply loved on people? What if we didn’t worry about our image? For example, when/if someone said God laid a song on their heart, to sing at church, they wouldn’t have to go to tryouts, only to be turned down because they don’t sing well enough? What if we just let the Holy Spirit do His job, and didn’t have to rush to get the next service started? These are questions that pop into my head. Seriously, what happens if there are people praying at the altar when the next service starts?!? Wait, that never happens because you know when the music stops you’d better get up. I remember when the pianist kept playing until people were finished. Now the music is a timer.
I have no idea what the solution is, but I know there are lots of people being hurt by the church, and there needs to be some changes. For me, not going to church isn’t the answer. And I’m not sure that’s the answer for anyone. The Bible is clear that we need to surround ourselves with likeminded people.*We must not quit meeting together, as some are doing. No, we need to keep on encouraging each other. This becomes more and more important as you see the Day getting closer. Hebrews 10:25* However, if going to church isn’t for you, start a small group in your home, or find one that’s already going on in someone else’s home! Stay connected with fellow Christians!! And if you go to church, don’t let any church, or any person stand in the way of you doing something God has called you to do! If you feel like God’s called you to do something and it doesn’t fit at your church, for whatever reason, do it elsewhere! God’s church isn’t confined to any building!
Unfortunately we are all human, and humans have a way of ruining just about anything. However, to the best of our abilities, we need to be the church! Pay attention to people wherever you are, whether that’s at Walmart, church, the corner store, the park, or even a bar!
*And now beware! Be sure that you feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his blood—for the Holy Spirit is holding you responsible as overseers. Acts 20:28