I love a good show, in particular a good movie and an occasional tv show (although I really don’t have any shows that I follow regularly). My taste in movies is probably in line with most guys, except that I care little for sports themed movies. I like action movies, war movies (and NO, Pearl Harbor does not qualify, bleh) and semi realistic SciFi. I’ve sat through some good movies and I’ve sat through some horrible ones as well. Recently we rented Interstellar at home, which was a rather lengthy movie, just shy of 3 hours. Without being overly mean, I want my money back. Seriously, can someone get my money and those hours of my life back?
That is how it goes, we watch something for the entertainment value as a means to relaxation, recreation and to unwind. Honestly, it's a time when we let others do our thinking for us, as we ride along on their journey. Sometimes the journey is good, sometimes not so much. If the show is really bad, we stop watching, we don’t watch any more episodes or any sequels.
If the show is really bad, we stop watching, we don't watch any more episodes or any sequels.
There are people who treat their local church like a show. It is like theater or a play, or a short movie. They show up on Sunday morning, some get in the sanctuary early, others slide in right at start time and slip into their seats. They watch, they are spectators, with some participation, but mostly recipients. They are there for “the show”. Some shows are actually really good. They have an awesome soundtrack, a good storyline and the ending makes them feel good. Other times the show isn’t so good: the soundtrack is lame, the story is boring, and they leave thinking they could have spent their time better elsewhere. In fact, let if the show is a let down long enough, they’ll change the channel (move to another show) or simply turn the show off (stop watching anything). And often, like a show, they have to decide if another alternative is more appealing than watching the show (after all, you can catch up later on).
I know these people exist, I talked to one some time back. I visited someone who was coming to church, who had been missing for a few weeks. It was a cordial visit, we were invited in and after the usually pleasantries, we enquired as to why we had not seen this gentleman and his wife recently. He told me several things: It wasn’t his kind of music, the sermons weren’t his kind of sermon, and he could stay home and watch Joyce Myers on tv while sitting in his pj’s drinking coffee with his feed\t up in the recliner (I want you to know how traumatic that was for me: I had to go home and rethink my entire call to ministry when someone says Joyce Myers has a better biblical message, I was crushed).
This attitude drives church hopping and shopping. If we only show up for the show, eventually the show will get boring, we’ll get tired of the “theater” itself, and someone is bound to make us mad. Then we’ll convince ourselves it is time for a new show, new theater, new people.
Let me share with you 3 reasons why church isn’t a show, but a body/family
#1- The “show” (worship service) IS important, but it is not the only part. If I only participate by showing up on Sunday morning for the corporate worship service, I’m not doing what I’m called to do. I’m called to be invested in by others, and to INVEST in others. That means I’ve got to do more than sit and watch/listen, but get involved, get to know people. See them as my family and people I am to invest in. That is small group ministry, that is mission ministry, that is fellowship as well as worship.
#2- The purpose of my church isn’t to entertain me. Our Christian culture in America is far too personality driven. Let me give you an example from Facebook: A local nobody pastor tweets/posts something profound, and gets little response (which is ok, no response needed to make something true). However, some pastor of a mega church, some great writer or musician can post something very simple, and it spreads like wildfire. We have a cult of personality that is dangerous and wrong. The preacher doesn’t have to be charismatic, brilliant and have a way with words. He doesn’t have to make me laugh or cry. As long as he isn’t preaching heresy, if he simply READS the Bible out loud in the most irritating voice, then I’m trusting God to do the work, not just the preacher. I’m not here to be entertained, I’m here to listen to God and grow.
#3- My job is to be in the show, not watch. God is calling all of us who are born anew through Christ, to serve faithfully and obediently by our own particular spiritual gifting in our local church. I find this to be the case more often than not. Someone and their family leaves the church. They are tired of their church (like saying they are tired of their family). The show isn’t entertaining and isn’t doing anything for them. Problem, they usually aren’t serving in the show either.
Arm chair quarterbacks don't just exist in football, but in church.
Arm chair quarter backs don’t just exist in football, but church. Those who will not lift a finger to assist, encourage, or change anything will be super critical and will be convinced that they have every good reason to leave for another church, which in due time, they will tire of as well.
We are a family of born again believers, we are the body of Christ, but we are by no means a show.