Friday, November 30, 2007

Church as Weekly Spiritual Steroid Fix

I’ve been a Christian for about 16 years, and during that time I’ve almost never missed church. And yet I am often cranky and dissatisfied with church, and sometimes downright cynical. I was in one of those moods recently, and I began to play a little mental exercise. Imagine, if you will, that you’re still a relative newcomer to church. You’ve heard a lot about Christianity, and you’re curious, you’re “searching,” and so you’ve been attending several churches in your town in an attempt to get a handle on what Christianity is all about.

After some extended research, I believe you might come to some of the following conclusions:

* Judging by the vast majority of sermons you've heard, you will assume that Christians are definitively the people whose lives are in crisis, their marriages falling apart, their finances a mess, their kids on drugs, etc. Consequently, they’re incredibly worried all the time, stressed out, and desperately in need of some confidence-building. The Sunday morning church experience is generally designed to be that confidence-booster. The music, the prayers, the sermons, everything is designed with this one goal in mind. Christians, I must presume, are simply very worried and overburdened people, and they desperately need to feel better.
* As I just said, Church is where they go to get that. The preacher addresses these many problems and urges the Christians to cheer up, for God is with them, and they have nothing to fear. This is the point of church. This is its one certain and sure purpose.
* The Bible is just a book of numbered confidence-building sayings to be cited by preachers to corroborate this basic message. Those "sayings" that do not fit readily into this template are simply ignored.
* But the positive influence of all this confidence-building has only a temporary effect. It doesn’t stick. Apparently, the assurance that Christians receive from their church experience may last anywhere from a few hours to, in rare cases, a day or two, but by the end of the week they are once again veritable basket-cases, and so they need another shot of spiritual steroids to boost their attitude once more.
There. That's the purpose of church. Must be. Gotta be. Anyway, that's what I think our hypotethical "searcher" would figure out. Discipleship? How can we be disciples if we're so dang messed up? Teaching the truth of the Gospel? Applying the Gospel? Living the Gospel? Learning how to penetrate our culture with the good news of the Kingdom? Nah! Just, make me feel "victorious" if only for an hour or two.

Does this ring true for anyone else?

Second question: is this the way it's supposed to be?

Third question: If not, how did we go wrong, and how can we get it right again?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

question 1. i do not know what church is suppose to look like. i think that if we thought more of the spiritual church or the body of Christ, that all we see on earth might look different to our hearts.

question 2. i think that everything on earth is not as it was suppose to be.

question 3 is actually two questions...3a. we went wrong pretty close to the beginning of man. 3b. we get it right by believing in Jesus the Christ, Loving God the most and loving eachother as ourselves.