Posted by: Terry | March 2, 2010

No Obligation Church

Today I can offer you No Obligation Christianity, designed for your convenience and comfort. Churches customized for the un-churched based on the very latest demographics and marketing research.

Over the years I have read the materials of The Church Growth Movement, Emergent Church, Simple Church, etc. The core message of all is that we have to make it easy to come to church. Anything that is potentially uncomfortable or inconvenient must be eliminated or softened.

So we have music that is selected based on surveys of the radio stations people listen to while they drive in their cars. (Yes one major player in the game did just this)

We remove words that are offensive or confusing like: sin, justification, redemption, propitiation, atonement, sacrifice…

Because, depending on which survey you read, we can only “get people” for 1.5 hours or so a week we reduce services and programs so we do not ask too much of them. And never schedule any meeting at an inconvenient time or that conflicts with Superbowl (yes some churches canceled their services this year so as to not conflict)

As I write this it is Lent, now not being one to really observe Lent it is interesting to hear people talk about Lent. I am pretty sure that in the Seattle area, where I live, Starbucks is the biggest victim of Lent. For some it is a food, some maybe a favorite TV show. Lent is all about feeling the pain.

Jesus left his glorious home in heaven, came to earth a poor man, lived a life of simplicity and rejection, and was executed for false charges. He calls us to follow him, to be different from the world. Those of us that claim to follow him are to live a life that is radically different from the world around us. We are to live a life that makes the world ask us about the hope, the joy, the love, the commitment that we have.

One writer said, “There was a time when forgiveness of sin was the great inducement to believe the Gospel. Today it seems that better life is the great inducement.” Yet Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” If we are not teaching the un-churched who God is, why God had to send Jesus, why they will perish, and what eternal life is, do we give them a false impression of what church is?

God offers all people a free gift of forgiveness and eternal life, there is nothing I can do to earn it. Does such a gift move me to serve and act? It should. Does such a gift mean commitment and even discomfort at times in that service? It might?

I go to church because it is different than the world, now there are many things in this world I enjoy and find pleasure in, but for the deep hurts and problems of life I need and want something apart from what I see every day. I want some people in my life who are different with some better answers, and I want the peace and hope that only faith in God can give.

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