Sunday, October 28, 2012

Don't try to tell me how to go to church.

Today marks a landmark for me. Today is the first time in my entire life that I have ever wholeheartedly disagreed with a sermon, and it's really grinding my gears. To be perfectly honest, the entire church service made me angry but the sermon in particular was icing on the cake. I'm going to break it down in sections (as church services usually are) and provide reasoning behind my anger and disappointment.

First: Worship.
 I have been to churches my whole life and heard many different kinds of worship. I have heard contemporary Christian, hymns, spoken word, call and response, Celtic worship and other forms of praise to our Savior. I do not have a problem with any of it. If that is the way someone worships Jesus, that's great. It's always a joy to see people kneel before the feet of our Lord. However, there is a sort of reverence and respect that accompany the songs we sing. It is with good reason that we don't just sing whatever comes in our heads as a congregation- it would be a jumbled, muddled, mess. The worship leader has a responsibility to the congregation to oversee the flow of the song and choose songs that are pleasing to the ear; otherwise, we simply wouldn't need a worship leader and team. We could have some form of individual worship time instead. This would be fun on it's own, but not the intent of a "body" of Christ. Having said that, I enjoyed the two songs we sang first. They were great to sing as a body and rejoice and bask in our Savior's love and presence. However, the third song was extremely poorly written. It was hard to follow, had no rhythm, and yet we sang both verse and chorus repeatedly. When i say repeatedly, i say at least eight or nine times; further, i felt that the worship team was forcing us to sing this song when people weren't super into it.

Second: The Reading of the Word.
After worship there is a time that the congregation as a whole reads a passage of Scripture out loud. The Scripture chosen was in the Psalms, and the translation of the day was "the Message." I personally do not like the Message, but understand that some do understand it better and so it is more of a personal Bible so that those who don't read the best may still enjoy devotions and gain learning. However, we read it as a congregation, and it sounded like a conversation. Not something that we hold reverent, and not the words of God himself. We forget that although Christ may have come as a man, He was also fully God and a lack of knowledge does not give us the right to "dumb down" the Bible.

Third: The Sermon.
ohhhhhh boy. The sermon. The title of the sermon was "how not to become a big church and to be successful." Excuse me. The pastor explained that he meant it satirically, but his entire sermon was how he had personally attempted to keep his church small, and that when it got too big, he would send out people to make bigger churches. That is understandable. However, let me just explain to you a few things. My dad, the pastor of a small church, has worked his entire pastoral career on helping people by outreaches and drawing people into the church, only to be met with opposition. He is not successful making a big church- and as a result, my family has suffered. There have been times when we couldn't even afford a Christmas tree, all because the members of our congregation didn't want to make our church "successful." And be not mistaken- we have not wanted for anything. God has provided for our every need and I have found my joy and riches through Christ. But don't you dare stand up there and tell me that you don't want a successful church when you can afford to send your daughter to China for a year, buy her an Ipad, and save enough money to send yourself and your wife there twice a year. That is ridiculous and it is obvious where your priorities lie. All your talk about how you simply want to disciple people- let's see how that is when your money is taken away because your congregation is split and then quits tithing. Let's see then. It is unfair of you to judge churches simply because they have many members- Greg Laurie's church, Harvest, is a huge discipleship church. They are the starters of the Harvest Crusade- they live to serve. It is wrong of you to condemn large churches and wrong of you to assume that everyone has enough money to pay the bills by being an unsuccessful church. And don't even get me started about how the only Bible you used was "The Message."

Fourth: Communion.
Loved it.