March 9th, 2017
How often have you heard, or possibly made the statement, “Kids these day!”? As I spend time praying and seeking God’s will for First Baptist Church I am reminded that Christians spend a lot of time railing against society. We can become like the grumpy old man yelling at the children to stay off our lawn spending more time complaining about society instead of engaging it. Yesterday, during our weekly Bible Study, one individual made the comment that it seems like people in Essex have become indifferent. They do not complain or fight against the church, but at the same time their general response to the church is simply “meh”.
I believe part of the issue is that the church and the surrounding communities have put up walls and somewhere along the way we have created an “us/them” mentality. Once again, the church is looking at culture and saying, “kids these days”, while the community is looking at the church with equal disdain and stating, “man, parents just don’t understand.” The result is a society where assumptions are developed and not combatted.
The believed cure comes in two size. The first one says, “I don’t care what others think…” The second goes off the rails and attempts to fit (awkwardly) into culture. Now I have to be honest because I don’t fit the typical pastor checklist on Sunday mornings. I don’t wear a tie, I’m often not clean shaven and rarely do I stand still. I want to be clear, this has nothing to do with me believing this is a better way to engage culture. The way I dress and look has to do with how I feel comfortable, I am not making a statement. I clarify that because I know that I am not now, nor ever will be, one of the cool guys.
Michael Horton states in his book on reclaiming the Great Commission that the church should be more focused on creating spiritual unity instead of cultural sameness. Perhaps some of our methods in the past to make the church “fit” have been a waste of time. Maybe our focus should be more driven on being the Church instead of discussing the church. What if the best practice for the church is summed by two passages of scripture? “… You shall the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-39, ESV). This is the first passage, what if instead of trying to determine what your neighbor would like and what would attract them to church, you simple loved your neighbor for who he/she is? Loving someone shouldn’t be as hard as we sometimes make it.
If the first passage gives us the motive of our heart the second passage gives us the mission of our heart: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20, ESV). Maybe, just maybe, we make Church too difficult. Being a Christian requires us to be called to action, not to sit around debating best practices. Get up, get out and engage individuals.