Last week we were talking about worship. Someone commented on how she brought her son to church every week when he was a child, however when he left home he hardly ever went to church.
This is not an unfamiliar sentiment. I hear it all the time actually. So instead of just letting it slide for the millionth time I decided to engage this woman.
"So did your parents take you to church every Sunday?" I asked her.
"Of course." She responded.
"So why," I returned, "did you continue to go to church when you left home?"
Her voice raised in exasperation said, "Because that is what you are supposed to do! On Sunday morning you are supposed to go to church!"
The problem with this logic is that its outdated. Society no longer deems it necessary for one to go to church on Sunday morning for you to be a good citizen. So, the question then becomes, why should that grown up child choose to spend an hour of his week listening to a sermon and singing old hymns when this is no longer "what you are supposed to do"?
You see the church lost its heart and soul in the first half of the 20th Century. Church became "popular" and people did just come to church because that was what everyone else was doing. We no longer had a common goal in mind.
For the church's part we lost the desire to evangelize, to GO and make disciples because the people were coming to us. Instead we started to build agencies like the federal government. We thought our primary mission was to have a national voice for justice. However, the idea of converting souls to Jesus Christ was left in the dust because our numbers were just naturally growing.
Not only did we build agencies at this time but we also built onto our churches making gloriously large facilities. While they served us for an age, we are now saddled with the burden of trying to maintain these facilities whilst we are no longer popular. This also steps into the way of our goals creating a barrier in our way.
Yes, social justice is very important, but it should be an outgrowth of the Great Commission, not a precursor to it. People because they have been made disciples should then move to speak out about injustice and oppression in our world.
Maybe I am just another Gen X'er. But I want to be part of an organization that has a mission of changing lives. I want to be a part of an organization that is having eternal impact, not just temporal. As a Gen X pastor I hear the words of the Great Commission and I cannot do anything but wonder why this is not the standard for our churches. If an activity doesn't help fulfill that goal, then we shouldn't be about that activity.
So today, I commit myself again to an organization that is not popular (THANK GOD!). I commit to being the nerd, the geek, the prude, the sissy, the dork, the dweeb, the Jesus Freak, because that is what Jesus asked me to do. He didn't say, "Go be popular!" He said, "Go make disciples!"
Anyone out there care to join me?