Tweet This year has been … is being … an interesting year for me. At the turn of 08 to 09 I knew that this year held so much promise, so much potential. The media was hyping the year up in the negative sense, doom and gloom, financial ruin on every corner. Yet in the [...]
This year has been … is being … an interesting year for me. At the turn of 08 to 09 I knew that this year held so much promise, so much potential. The media was hyping the year up in the negative sense, doom and gloom, financial ruin on every corner. Yet in the midst of this noise I heard something different, a message of change, a message of power, a message of freedom.
It didn’t come from one place, it didn’t come from the media but all of a sudden 5 or 6 different pastors that I, from time to time, listen too all started talking about a change in the church. This year I’ve explored a little of what that means, but I’ll be honest – I can be pretty lazy at times. I can get quite fired up about something but then wane off and .. well all the huff and puff goes.
So why am I writing this here, on my blog of all places. I need to be a little more on-to-it, to keep myself in line and push forward. See yesterday I was involved with the team helping for a day seminar with John Burke (from Gateway Church) – I was doing some techy stuff. It meant I had the opportunity to talk with John and to spend the day listening to him. For those of you who don’t know, John is Snr Pastor at Gateway a church with this catch phrase:
No Perfect People Allowed – Come As You Are
Tradition & the church
I decided yesterday to send out a tweet asking those who were around “what stops YOU from going to church?” … I was expecting all sorts of answers, the answer I got back (I should have expected) threw me, made me really sad and then really angry.
The People – that’s what stops me
What the … ?. How utterly messed up is that? WE – those who are supposed to be Christ like, WE are the reason people don’t come to church. And it’s little friggin’ wonder really. Too many churches (people) have forgotten what it is to be followers of Christ, and have simply become followers of tradition. For example … show me where in the bible it talks about:
- infant baptism
- a church leader having the right to absolve sins
- to hate gays, lesbians or smokers
- to act piously, superior
- to have only 1 person in the faith who can talk to God on your behalf
It doesn’t .. God doesn’t. These are things that the church has piled on top of faith to make “religion”, to build up something that people can kind of hold onto, but can never really be free of. I hate to say it, but the churches of yesterday (and many today stuck in yesterday) have probably done MORE damage, to the true faith, than good.
Talk to ANYONE who grew up in a Catholic church, Anglican, Baptist or Presbyterian – many of these faiths/denominations crippled people with rules, with crap that the seniors in the church deemed as right.
The real faith
It’s because of this model, because the church has been rocked time and time again by scandal, by fights between churches about gays in church, about infant baptism about. ….. about CRAP, that people want nothing to do with Jesus. Why can’t churches just drop all this pretense and get back to the gospel? Where is the truth, where is the helping? Where is Christ??
I was listening to Rob Bell from Mars Hill Bible Church talk about this, he shared a story that goes like this. His friend was an alcoholic, who joined AA to help recover. His friend invited him along. Sitting in this AA meeting Rob suddenly realised “THIS, is church”. There was no preaching, no drums, no band, no singing, no prayer and no religious crap.
So why was that church? Rob friend said to him “where else can I get 5 phone numbers of people who I can call, 24/7 and say ‘HELP’ and I know there will be a voice on the phone, with no condemnation, no judgment .. instead with love, understanding and compassion”
We got it wrong
How did we as “the church” get it so $%&^#ing wrong?? How can an AA group be more like the church of Christ than the baptist church down the road? How can we, ‘the people of the church’ be the reason people don’t want to come to church?
I know that there are many many people out there desperately looking for the answer, a solution to their problems. They are lonely and looking for friendship, they are stoned and looking for support, they are drunk and need help, they are in financial trouble but they don’t come to the church – why would they. ‘We’ just judge them, or we try to change them into cookie cutter templates of what is “right”.
Lets read the bible for a second if we may:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death”
For those wanting check that, it’s in Romans Chapter 8, verse 1 and 2.
What if …. ?
What if you knew you could come and talk to me about anything, and know that I wasn’t going to judge you. Instead you were met with love, compassion and a honest frank discussion? What if there was a place you could go to where you didn’t have to pretend, you can come – long hair, tattoo’s, piercings and all. A place where you could meet with other people and talk about the things you face in life.
What if you could meet with a bunch of people where the statements like “I watch too much porn”, “I had an affair”, “I was abused as a kid”, “I am broke” or “I shoot up just to get through the day” were not only allowed but were …. addressed, talked about. A place where you were given the tools & friendships to help.
What about a place where you can come together with others to enjoy life, to share the ups and downs and to just get on and live.
You … today
What’s your church like? (and by church I mean, church, soccer club, pub, darts team, bowling alley) Do you have a group around you where you can be you? Does this group allow you to let it all out? Does this group encourage you in your life?
If not, why not? Because maybe, just maybe a Jesus who encourages this, is a Jesus people might just want to know. Forget the religion, get rid of the tradition – let’s find the Jesus of the bible & see where He takes us.
I’m still exploring but I’m starting to see more and more what this is about – I’m on a journey, to drop the pretense of being a ‘christian’ (which growing up in the church, is something that can come naturally) and find out what it means to be ‘a Child of God’, a ‘follower of Christ’.
For those of you reading this, that know me well, those I work with or hang out with, or go on bagel runs with – I challenge you to challenge me. Go on, ask me the hard questions, tell me what you think of … well this post, my story etc. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes and you are the people who’ll see them … but I want to be real, I want to be honest.
I’m not ABOUT to become a bible ‘basher’ – don’t worry, I’m not into that & don’t think it works, but if you are up for a coffee & a chat, then lets talk, I might even shout you the coffee
Challenge me, ask me, push me – but be prepared to answer this question for me “what stops you from knowing Jesus?”