I attended a service recently where after the main event and lunch we took some time to listen to the voice of the Sprit and then report back to the others in attendance what we believe God was speaking to us as an assembly.
The main event did not end with a knock out. It was your regular Sunday morning assembly. It had decent worship and a decent, Bible-basic teaching. The lunch following the main event was good, the fellowship was better than the meal. Good conversations. Some honest and open dialogue with a number of people. Refreshing.
One conversation I found intriguing was with a mother of a teenager. The teen had stopped attending church some time ago. The young man had recently attended for one Sunday. He saw that, in his mind, nothing had changed and so has not returned since.
As people shared what they heard the Lord saying it was, in my humble but experienced opinion, that we should continue on being faithful. God confirming what we were currently doing. How we are faithful as believers because we continue to worship, pray, and hold services. It was the regular “God is pleased with us” and we need to keep Jesus at the center of what we do comments. Nothing challenging or stretching. Little that was truly biblical.
I mentioned that maybe we need to change some of what we believe and most of what we do as believers. The focus became the technology. Not what I was referring to. I mentioned that although the message – the Gospel of the Kingdom – has not changed, the methods by which we communicate the message must change. Some became defensive as if we were attacking them personally. Maybe we were. Others wandered off into sharing their own thoughts and feelings about things not related to the topic currently under discussion – escapism or simply a wondering mind … one comment led to a new thought led to a rabbit trail excursion.
But, the point was missed – even after I mentioned the story of the young person who had seen no outward change to the way we “do business” (after being away for a number of years) and, as a result, has not bother to return.
One young man – husband, father, and business owner – mentioned that in his opinion the church of the future was going to be directly connected to the business world that he was involved in. You know, build community among the staff of the company, begin to win them to the Lord, and then have a daily or weekly gathering in the business facilities where they could share and pray. Another business man agreed. Others – by their comments and by their faces and body language – were certainly not in agreement. For them it was “business as usual,” church business that is.
It was good to air our thoughts on what the Lord was saying to us in our time together. However, there were a number of things that I observed.
1> There is a definite divide between the younger generation and the old timers.
2> Some old timers are moving forward in the things of the Kingdom . They are the ones who are readers and who are interacting with believers in other geographical areas and from other flavours of the Church and who are also involved in reaching the lost.
3> In general, believers do not want to change. They may not like what they have and are experiencing but it is better than the “unknown.”
4> The heart for the lost is missing in most believers. They are focused on what they want, need, like, desire or already have. It is a series of unending “what’s in it for me” comments without that phrase being spoken.
5> Most believers think they are hearing the voice of God but they are not. When all you hear is that things are okay, it is usually not the Lord speaking. When what you hear is not challenging you or stretching you spiritually, emotionally, relationally, even physically then it is most likely not the Lord. Believers have not taken the time to sort out which inner voice is the voice of the Spirit.
6> Believers who have been raised in a traditional setting for church will usually not be flexible when it comes to doing things a new way. Oh, there may be small concessions and minor changes but basically the format and content of their experience and the expression of their faith (the church service) is not going to see any changes. It may be time to move on and start something new.
7> The local churches are dying. This is seen in the definite lack of life in the services. Not to mention the declining numbers, the decreasing income, and the increase in the average age of those in attendance.
8> There is a “protect the fort” mentality and little sign of a desire to attack the gates of hell and rescue the lost. The lost seldom come up in conversations between believers.
I walked away somewhat frustrated even though everything I heard and experienced during the day I have come to expect. I work with many groups in many areas of my country and elsewhere in the world. What I experienced yesterday can and does take place in every country and in a lot of churches.
In the book of Acts, chapter eleven we read “Who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”
Well, many should be asking themselves that same question because in the church today many are standing in the way. Yesterday was simply one small example.
Just a personal observation.