This is the era of the quick, the easy, the flashy, the bright lights, the fake noses, the artificial, and the shortcuts. Our culture wants fast food, fast service, fast internet, immediate information, instant satisfaction. Sadly, today’s churches are not much different. Our purpose, our passion, the meat of what the church is has been replaced with an artificial substitute.
Sunday mornings, I find myself so distracted. The church is so full of frivolous decorations and flashy lights and sounds these days; the worship music is a huge production, everyone is all dressed in collared shirts and skirts, it’s hard not to be distracted. The people appear as whitewashed and decorated as the building they pour millions of dollars into while the homeless, dirty, grimy, poor, and broken are outside; and not only are they outside the church walls instead of inside, but they are outside laughing at how silly we all look in our grandiose buildings and button up shirts and gelled-up fauxhawks, claiming to follow a Christ who came for the sick, the needy, and the broken.
Matthew 23 is a great, underrated chapter. I don’t hear enough pastors preach on it. In that chapter, Jesus goes off. It’s one of his more angry, honest rants. He just rails against the pharisees and sadducees. Verse 15, He says, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte (convert to Judaism), and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourself.” Our church today has all of these formulas to make “quick Christians”, to convert someone on the go, hand them a tract, pray with them, move on to the next target, and really, what good are we doing? They are unable to understand the true love and nature of Christ in this way. And where is our heart in doing this? Do we care about their souls, or do we care about another notch in our belt, another convert on our record? We are just diluting the gospel. We are making them twice the sons of hell as we are.
Today, the church is full of microwave Christians. TV-dinner Christians. It’s so easy to want it all handed out in appealing, beautiful little pre-made meals. If we are going to convert others to Christianity, we have to have a formula, the ABC method, the systemic verses + prayer. In our church, the music has to be easy to follow, the words have to be small, digestible, on the screen in pretty colors, and the band has to sound like it’s a concert every Sunday morning. While devouring these little packaged meals, no one wants to think of where that meat in the package has been, how much it has been processed, diluted, injected with junk, filled with frivolous details.
How much are you getting for your dollar, so to speak? Or let’s make it literal. Do you tithe? Do you understand that your tithe, rather than going to further the kingdom of God, could be going to pay for that fancy fall-themed curtain to replace the summer-themed one behind the stage or the new sound system for the worship team, even though the old one works fine? It’s like comparing fast food to home cooking. Home cooking costs less in the long run, when you buy bulk, but no one wants to take the time to research recipes, pick out ingredients, and cook the meals, right? We’ll pay a dollar for a burger more filled with cow eyeballs and mulched bone rather than real meat, instead. Consequently, as we’re learning, our health suffers due to these choices. So why are we not more concerned with our spiritual health? The health of our churches? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about what shape our souls are truly in? Or better yet, shouldn’t we be more concerned about the souls of those outside our church walls? That’s something to truly think about.
This is not to claim that every Christian in church is this way, but Christians subscribe to these ideas, attend these churches and don’t speak up about it. You may have your heart going the right direction, but it’s time to really examine our lives and weed out the superfluous details that are keeping us from running the race set before us. Stop settling for drive-through churches. There needs to be an end to the formulaic Christianity, the Sunday Christian, the modern-day Pharisee, the McChristian.
The California hippie in me wants a revolution for the organic Christian. None of these artificial substitutes. Forget the fancy wrapping, the extra sugar to make it go down easier, etc. Jesus didn’t mince words. He said what he had to when he had to.
Now the question is where to start… It’s like trying to take on McDonalds. Instead it’s the McChurch.
Love it…and very well-written, too. I read the whole thing, and this is kinda a long post! Good stuff.
I am seeing more posts like these, these days. People seem to be crying out for simplicity, and authenticity. And also for compassion, and open hearts.
While activity in the comments is low on this one, I’m seeing this post resonating with many through various other channels. It certainly supports the idea that people are looking, searching for a certain authenticity in the church today.
I appreciate you dropping by and sharing your thoughts!
WOW! I saw your link on Twitter and it caught my eye. You’ve just described my struggles with church. I applaud your courage to share so honestly and openly. I imagine how ludicrous it all seems to you after what you’ve seen in your travels. Speaking from experience, once I ventured outside of the American Ideal, my life and perspective could never be the same again. There’s no going back.
Thanks so much for the comment. It’s true, it’s very hard to talk about this in any kind of open environment. There are a lot of people close to me who disagree strongly, but after spending so much time with the less fortunate, the contrast between them and the church is such a harsh one that I feel like something needs to be said. Like you said, there’s no going back to that way of life once you see how the outside world is hurting for help from those people inside the church buildings. We were meant to serve the least of these, and if the church isn’t functioning as it’s supposed to, I think something needs to be done about it.