I was looking at a church’s website today and noticed that in the name of being “real”(otherwise called truthful) they used so many adjectives it almost became comical. Words like relevant, authentic, engaging, intentional, interactive, catalyst, strategic, and many others have become the staple of advertising for churches and church leaders.
I used them and they rolled off my tongue like butta. It was innocent enough at first for me, but before long I was a major user. I couldn’t make a sentence without throwing in an all too familiar adjective like “relevant” or “authentic”. It became a crutch for speaking and before long all I wanted to do was hang around other people who used the same words. Sadly, I was a member of a little known cult called The Contemporarys. Yes, this group had sucked me in to their little group and fed my addiction with timely emails, newsletters, and free David Yurman cross cufflinks (to be worn on the inside not showing the cross because it would not be relevant in today’s societal needs) Before long I quit associating with Bible Thumpers who read from anything less than The New English Relevantly Hyperdrived Apologizing version of………The Bible If not for a group of Christian friends who made a commitment to intervene on my behalf, I would still be tied to the inner circle of the cult, known as “The Inner Circle” (It was tough for them to get a cool word for the inner circle) As I distanced myself from their hold I began to see that what they were doing wasn’t really anything new at all …….THEY WERE JUST WORDS!!
Of course, I am kidding, but this may be closer to the truth for some than they are willing to admit. When I went to college I pledged a fraternity my first semester and joined the next semester. I made some fairly good friends and actually felt like I was a Big Man On Campus. But what made me a Big Man On Campus was not who I was, but who I was associated with in my fraternal membership. It looks like the fraternal need of many Christian Men is still there and the best way to fill that need is to be a part of a hierarchy group of people who have all the answers to right the wrongs of past mistakes made in the modern day church. To them the Bible is a reference book to be used with the latest bestseller from the hottest new Christian Author, instead of the other way around. Over the years I have had many churches approach me about coming to serve in their fellowship and it is tragic to have one or more of their leaders ask me, “What book are you reading now?” as a litmus test as to whether I am up on my modern Christianity. One such leader called a while back and when asked I just had to stop this whole thing, so when he asked what book I was reading I replied “Romans.” He laughed and said, “No really, what book like Visioneering or Blue Like Jazz?” I didn’t laugh and once again said, “Romans.” He didn’t call back.
You can always tell when we have drifted too far from God’s Purpose when we don’t need Him or His Word to function anymore. When Fortune 500 companies start to generate the vision for reaching out to people for Christ, something is wrong. I’m not against adjectives that I mentioned earlier in this blog, but it causes me to think if we need to use those words, then we may have a problem Are we not relevant? Did you know that trends that used to take 3 years to establish are now established and gone in 6 months? If that’s the case, then who is relevant? Talk about riding on a relevancy roller coaster! If we aren’t authentic(def. having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence) then the problem could be in our source and that source is probably not God’s Word. If we aren’t in a vision mode then we need what catalyst God can provide, not what catalyst Wall Street can provide. I think right now in the church we are a product of unfulfilled fake Christianity. As a youth pastor, I saw it coming years ago in the lives of students who were trying to live their faith through their parents. I had to purposely try to get them to forget about living second hand faith and try to convince them to live a real faith one on one with Christ. I also saw many kids who “got it” and deepened their walk with Christ, but there are many from the 70’s and 80’s who are the disgruntled preachers and church leaders of today. Their opposite mindset about what their faith was like as a child and youth is driving their well meaning agenda, but it isn’t helping the church move. It’s just a distraction. And now adjectives are driving the course of modern day churches and we think if we say it enough it will get better, but it won’t. If you take Christ out of the Gospel, you have no gospel. If you take the Holy Spirit out of discernment, you have no direction, If you take God’s Word out of authentic teaching, you have no truth. If you take sacrifice out of service, you have no workers. If you allow the World to control your church, you have no church. If you want to be relevant, authentic, contemporary, and many other words that describe our desire to serve God, then be a Christian or Like Christ. He is never ashamed of associating with us. May we never be caught being ashamed of associating with Him. In fact, I think this whole style of living shouldn’t be allowed to leave a bad taste in our mouth when it comes to lifting up the name of the Lord. When I have a bad taste in my mouth, I usually don’t notice it is bad breath until someone brings it to my attention. Then I have the option to either deal with it or not. I usually get a breath mint and that takes away the bad taste for me and the bad smell to whoever I am talking to. I think it’s time to evaluate if this whole thing tastes good or not, and then see how it is affecting those we are influencing. If it has even a hint of bad taste to us, then it probably smells even worse to others. Remember, you cannot get anymore real or relevant than the truth. Psalm 20:5-8 We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests. Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
The Pilgrimage continues……