Church and other oddities

Announcement first: I’ll be teaching from Jeremiah (Jeremiah, A Bright Light in a Dark Season) starting in October at Lighthouse Christian in Puyallup. Feel free to join me. I’ll be taping the teaching sessions and producing them online for use next January. Let me know if that sounds interesting to you.

Back to sinners in church. Have to laugh. If we didn’t have sinners at church the whole building would be empty! Good discussion, folks. It is true. People do get saved at church (along with other places, of course). At our church, it happens because (we hear from those who tell us), “I felt safe enough to come back, week after week, and then just suddenly, I got it.” So. What do we do to make it safe?

1. We watch our words. Have you ever noticed how much of our “Christian”  language is gobbledy gook to those who don’t speak it? Who is the Holy Spirit? What is “feeling led?” What is “speaking to my heart?” Or even simple words like “bless” can be confusing. When I do editing for our church newspaper, I get things like this all the time. “Be sure and come (to the event). You’ll be blessed, and lifted up, and God will speak to your heart, and . . .”

I have to say, “Wait, let’s put that in English. . .  What exactly will someone get if they attend?”

2. We draw a clear line in the sand, and give people permission and time to choose whether or not they want to cross. We talk openly about a commitment to Christ, and we don’t assume that everyone present has made one. “When you decide to follow Christ, you will discover. . .” Or, “You may not have chosen to follow Christ yet, but when you do . . .”

3. We are honest. Life in Christ is neither rosy nor comfortable. (Do I hear an AMEN?) We face the inconsistency in our behaviors, our tendency to sin, even when we know better, our sometimes complete inability to change. We don’t paint an inaccurate picture of what happens AFTER someone steps over the commitment line. It won’t be easy. It won’t be perfect. Life in Christ has ups and downs, success and failure, holiness and sin. It is what it is, and it is what it should be.

4. We try to take down every HUMAN barrier to Christ. If fancy clothes stand in the way, we dress casually. If money stands in the way, we take no offerings. If kids stand in the way, we take the very best care of kids possible, in all our kids programs. If boredom stands in the way, we make a sincere effort (within the limit of our ability) to be interesting and high quality (after all, professional is all most of the world sees, pro music, pro speakers, pro drama, etc).

So far, at our church, God seems to have led us in this direction. Worship? Absolutely. We do that, with all our energy. Teaching? We do that too. We talk about the hard things, the real things, the Bible things. But we do it in a way that the outsiders can sit and listen, and when they are ready, they can step over the line. That’s what Jesus did.

Next time: Back to the Old Testament. Why the pillar of fire and cloud?

Bette

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3 Responses to “Church and other oddities”

  1. Kerrie Says:

    Personally, I AM churched and the church scares me….and I’m not the only one.

  2. Char Flett Says:

    I’ m very interested in being able to study your Jeremiah study on line. If not that way, perhaps the tapes. I would not be able to attend in person (sob sob).

    You are in my prayers daily.

  3. gail Says:

    “Life in Christ is neither rosy nor comfortable.” so glad that the church has learned to be honest. i grew up with and still wrestle with the idea that if you are a christian life will be rosy. what were they drinking in the 70’s?

    good post!

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