Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Well, I went to church on Sunday for Easter Service, and it was really interesting. At first, I was a little afraid. Afraid of seeing my former pastor again, since the last time I saw the pastor, it really wasn't all that great, however, it really wasn't that bad. I was shocked at how dead the service was. The praise team started with joy, at least a little, but ended on a real sour note. The service never took off at all and I was really very disappointed. The pastor's message was off, I was really shocked. It looks like I left that church at just the right time. The soloist was ok, but just ok. The way I heard others rave about how good they were, I was shocked to see just how mediocre they were. Their voice was strained, they didn't know how to use the mic (how to move it back and forth from the mouth to control how forcefully their voice came across) it was just really sad to see how bad it was. More importantly, there was no feeling behind the words. Sometimes that's actually more important than the persons ability. The pastor's attempt at preaching was dismal at best, and I'm not talking about their delivery. It was the point she was trying to get across... there wasn't a clear one. The point was convoluted... AND the delivery was choppy as the pastor stumbled over words and at times laughed nervously. It was a real train wreck.
Now my reason for bringing this up and writing about it was to make a greater comment on the state of the church as a whole. What I saw at my former church On Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday to some) is pretty much indicative of what I've seen in the church as a whole today. I've been to several churches, in several states, and seen the same thing repeatedly. As the quality of worship and teaching diminishes, so does the ability and expectations of its congregants.
I believe that there is a direct correlation between the intensity and quality of the worship/word we experience in our spiritual lives, and the intensity and quality of the work we produce in our daily lives. Both require passion. One cannot produce anything of value without it. It saddens me to see leaders in the Body intentionally leading their congregants to less passionate, and sometimes downright depressing worship and understanding of the word. Life is depressing enough. We need our worship to transcend the evil and mundane nature of this life. To shed the “grave clothes” of humanity and come into the presence of our Heavenly Father and enter into “His courts with praise.” Not doing so diminishes every aspect of our lives.
Instead today we see the church becoming stratified... by denomination, by class, by race, by gender and a host of other variables that have absolutely nothing to do with God. The Easter service I attended reminded me of what my students in Chicago talked about when they would report to me on Monday morning, what had gone on in their Sunday services. The inaccuracy of the teaching they received, or in some cases the lack of teaching all together. It was very disheartening to see, especially as the behavior of the students became more and more erratic. It seemed the greater the need for good teaching, the worse it got.
As I looked and listened to the pastor struggle to try to pull together a sermon, and the praise team struggle with the only job they have, to lead the congregation into worship, I began to see that my leaving my former church was the best thing I could have done. I DID “obey the prophet”, by that I mean the visiting Apostle, when I stopped attending that church. That I would be just as empty and hollow as many in that church have become... with a form of godliness, but without any of the power thereof, if I had stayed.
I thank God that He communicates with His people. That If we listen and obey, we will always be prepared for what is to come. That He prepares all those that He calls... even when we don't know it. That if we listen to that “still small voice” and move in faith, we will always be where we need to be, when we need to be there and equipped to do what we need to do, no matter how unqualified we (and the rest of the world for that matter) think we are.