We Christians live with such angst about the nature and tenor of our politics. But look at the real danger to the faith. It is us! Check out the headline: CHURCH ASKS FORGIVENESS FOR BANNING FAT PEOPLE FROM THE WORSHIP TEAM.
In their worship guidelines the New Creation Church lists”excessive weight” along with inappropriate clothing as something that won’t be accepted on the team. Maybe we want to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all gluttony is a sin. Let’s look again at their reasons, “We are the first thing the congregation sees. People do judge by appearance. We never get a second chance to make that first impression. Please be sure that your style and clothing bring honor and glory to God, isn’t excessive and doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself,”
Now check out their apology. “There has been some media circulating about our Worship Team Guidelines. Forgive us if we offended anyone. That certainly was not our intention. These guidelines have never been used to discriminate against anyone and have never been enforced,”
This is the apology that is not an apology. “Forgive us if we offended…” You obviously offended. Just own it. But don’t apologize for offending me as much as for offending God and His Bride. Before you say, “You go Jim.” Realize now, I am not only speaking to New Creation Church. I am speaking to all of American (Western) Christendom because this is what we have created! And it is what we continue to perpetuate.
As long as we have a system of church that is based on attracting people, getting them in the door and then doing all we can to make them stay and pay, this is what we will produce. We will obsess on the immediate over the long-term, the appearance more than the heart, the tangible over the intangible Kingdom of God. We will seek crowds first and the fruit of the Spirit second.
In the words of my friend and colleague, Kent Carlson, “the way we attract people, actually forms them.” The fact is we have tried the old bait and switch for more than a generation. We have produced greater and greater shows, drawing people into our religious malls where they can choose their product. We thought we could get them in and in time, they would choose to “deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Jesus.” But instead we have reinforced our own patterns of consumerism and consumption. The results are a shallower and not even broader form of Christianity.
Disciples are not formed by having attractive people on the stage. Disciples are formed as they live in community with others under the lordship of Christ. Have you ever wondered what the unbeliever should experience, if they happen to wander into our services?
Paul describes it this way. “…if all prophesy (declares truth), and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you (1 Cor. 14:24-25).”
Don’t hear from me that quality doesn’t matter. We should be giving God a worthy sacrifice. But it is a sacrifice of substance, rather than a sacrifice of appearance. It is and offering for His good pleasure, not to appease the whims of the masses of unregenerate souls. Treating guests well is important. Hospitality matters as an expression of our love for God and others.
Nor is this a rant against big churches. Larger churches can provide a powerful witness when they are making disciples who are being formed by the Spirit and the Word. They can also often accomplish great Kingdom works that a smaller church can’t.
But our life together should not display how we have it all together. It should reveal our weakness, humility, and neediness for God’s grace and mercy. The faith is not just for pretty people. Nor is the goal of faith to make people pretty. Faith in Christ seeks to transform our emptiness into a fullness that the world can drink from. Now that would be a show the world needs to see.
As always, thanks for reading, liking, sharing and commenting.