Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review {Why do we do this thing called church anyway??}

I like thought provoking books.  I think sometimes, we do things because they are habit and we have no reason at all why we do them.  It is like the story of a lady always cutting the ends of her ham off before she sticks it in the oven to bake.  When questioned why she did this, she had no answer.  Come to find out, she did it because she saw her mother do it, who saw her mother do it...who did it because the ham never fit into her small pan! 

I think church can be the same way.  We do things, well, because they have always been done that way.

Is it right? 
Is it effective for the Kingdom?
Is it for God's glory? 

Southern Baptist, Nazarene, Methodist, Missional Church, Pentecostal, Emergent Church, it is enough to make my head spin.  Even "non-denominational' churches seem to fit a certain mold of doing things a certain way.  Who is right?  Is there a right?  What exactly did Jesus mean when he calls Believers the Church?

This book takes a Christian and an Atheist and follows their journey of visiting various churches across the United States.  Some mega churches are visited such as Lakewood (Joel Osteen), Saddleback (Rick Warren) and The Potter's House (T.D. Jakes.)  Some small churches and even a house church are visited...none of which you or I have ever heard of. 

I guess at the end of the book, I was wondering where Jesus was.  With too much watered down gospel and too many fog lights, He almost seemed to be completely absent from many of the churches.  It made me wonder why we do this thing called church and what exactly Jesus would have it look like.  Would it even have a building?  I don't have any answers, just lots of questions running through my mind.

I think the perspective from the atheist is mind blowing and very accurate.

All that said, I love my church.  We aren't looking for something bigger or better or brighter.  We are happy with our church's mission of "equipping believers to walk with God, love others, and impact their world by developing fully-devoted followers of Jesus Christ..."  Even so, it does one good to question the purpose behind the couple of hours on Sunday mornings.

There was one part of the book that made me cringe...it said that we as believers might want to consider toning down our words about the blood of Jesus when talking to Muslims because of all the bloodshed.  Maybe I am not understanding the author clearly, but I will never be toning down the blood of Jesus.  It is my only hope, my only power, and my only basis for eternal life.

How much in our churches is based on actually Christianity rather than just the culture of America?  We have taken what Christ did and institutionalized it.  Why does everything have to be based on a formula?  Why is every minute scheduled during a service?  It is as if we wouldn't dare want God Himself to show up with His own agenda.  We might not have time for that.

I find myself asking the same question that the atheist asked, "Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?"

I don't know.  I just don't know.

What do you think the purpose of the church is?  First of all, how do you define "church"?


Sharon said...

Hmm...being on staff at a church, I am constantly challenged by similar thoughts. First, I believe that the "church" is the body of Christ - meaning that we are here to do His work in a very hurting world. Second, I think it is very easy to get comfortable in church and expect things to be presented in a way that make us comfortable. It is easy to forget that we are here to do God's work and that means if church gets uncomfortable for us so someone who needs to know Christ is comfortable, it is okay. Unfortunately too many churches want to be comfortable; but that doesn't mean that is what church is supposed to be.

Patti said...

Stopped over here from LPM Blog.
Loved this post. We stopped going to church for 9 years. Showed up for sunday service and was told we would no longer be doing worship service, the pastor's wife would be handling that.........well, it was kind of like showing us to the door...so we left quietly. Anyway, after 9 years God quietly summoned us to Him and such an awesome time. So we endeavored to "find" a church. I was shocked and dispared at what had happened in "church", we settled quietly in a little church far different than anything we had ever experienced, it was for a season, 18 months. We left the church but have maintained a beautiful friendship with the people.(Mennonites) We learned a lot from these dear people.
But here we are today, just not willing to play church anymore. We are seriously considering planting a ministry, not a church, but establishing strong Bible Studies and Ministries to those who are tired of "church" as it is.
I have asked the question over and over again, "If Jesus showed up in Person on Sunday morning, what would He clean out?"