Guest blogger – Bill Lewis (apostolic leader, Ohio)
The challenges of this period in history are many. Each generation has their challenges. If you were in the 1920’s, it was the Great Depression. The 1930’s had its Dust Bowl and homelessness. The 1940’s were plagued by WW2, the great loss of American lives. The 1950’s had the Korean War which bleeds into this day. The 1960’s found us ensconced in the Vietnam War which was the first war we fought not to win. To this day, we find ourselves immersed in wars across the globe. They have changed to wars of Terrorism. They are illusive, unpredictable, unmarked, suicidal. They are religious, paramilitary, and have no regard for the civilian, in fact, the civilian is the target.
With social media, our world has become more vicious, outspoken, threatening. Any person sitting behind a computer can be bold with their words, taunting, critical, vile, spouting hate, judgment, shaming. They can hide behind the screen. They can be little minded people who in anonymity appear to be big, strong, influencers. Bullying can take place with little or no consequence. And in all the world of “friends on FB,” they are alone. Creepy people are phishing for victims and outrageous fake personas are working to scam and destroy. We have wars in our homes, the attacks are relentless. The smartphone has become attacked by incessant robo calls that plague our peace. Daily we are assaulted.
The question is often asked, “Where is the church?” A far better question is “Where is the Christian?” Church is an easy target. It never seems to satisfy the atheistic, agnostic, I don’t care non-Christian. Rumors abound to the failures of leaders, true or false. Slander flows like water. Accusations that they are after your money, they want to control you, it is nothing more than a club, it is judgmental, the preacher is no good etc., etc. The church is easy to vilify and dismiss. We have to stop inviting people to church for the sake of just church.
The Christian has to be real. This is a one on one message and life. The Christian can no longer put it all on the pastor and other leaders. This is not a spectator sport. If you ask someone to come to church it should be because you are invested in that person and you want them to meet your family of faith. It is not to sit through a service. The attack against the church would rapidly diminish if we were to make it personal.
For instance, some people are rabid football fans. They eat, drink, live the sport. They watch hours of the sport, can tell the names of players, they know the stats, the predict college elite and super bowl candidates. They tailgate, they drive hundreds of miles to be there. They are fans. On the other hand, there is a large section of the population that could care. They get bored watching a game. They know nothing of the nuances of the sport. They would rather do something else. They are NOT sports fans.
We may think everyone should be a Christian. We may think everyone should go to church. The reality is there are millions who are NOT interested. They do not think of church or Christianity. They do not think about spiritual issues. They are NOT Christian fans. Sundays come and it is not different than Saturday or Friday for them. So while Christians pile into church buildings, the non’s are piling into kids sports, bike trails, camping, sleeping in, and they have no guilt, no need, it does not cross their minds.
Meanwhile, we, like avid football fans just do not understand why people do not get it.
The way you make a football fan is to show interest in your wife or girl friend or child or good friend and invite them to watch one with you. You explain the game, some of the rules and slowly point things out to them. You have lots of food, laughter, and answer questions that seem dumb to you because you know so much, but you treat the question as of paramount importance and you do not diss them for their lack of knowledge. You keep it simple. It will grow on them because they like you and want to be with you. Fanship will come much, much later.
Christians have to engage a friend. Church is probably not the first step in the relationship. You live. You share when asked. You answer simply. You are teaching the rudimentary parts of your life with Christ. Eventually, with much patience they will become fans of Jesus. Church should be a place where you take them to meet your faith family and begin to make them apart of the family. Keep them away from crazy uncle Joe, or busybody Aunt Millie. Family has some strange people in it, but with instruction and love, we love uncle and aunt.
Through the years people need people. One has put it “No man is an island.” True Christianity provides a rock of stability in the storm, it provides relationships that uphold us and expresses love. True Christianity is not about the dogma, but about the relationship with the God of the universe, his son, and his Spirit and it is best expressed in community. The church then is a gathering of people for a purpose.
When we lose purpose, we are no longer a church. We are just an organization, drifting. The church does not have to step up, the Christian has to step up!