Sunday, January 25, 2015

3 Days - 3 Churches - Reposted

I had something entirely different planned for today's post.  However, after a few comments I saw on Facebook, and two face to face conversations, I had this past week, I decided to bring back this blast from the past. 

It is quite long as it was originally a 3 part series.  Read it all at once, over a few days, or not at all.  It's entirely up to you.  Hopefully you will take something away from this and make a positive difference in your world.

Part 1 - The “Old Fuddyduddy church.”


Old Fuddyduddy churches are exactly what the name implies.  Churches with older congregations that are dead, or soon to be dead.  Churches where the old Fuddyduddy’s run things. 

These churches are typically older and were built to seat hundreds of people.  Today however, they are almost empty with 40 to 50 “Old Fuddyduddy’s” sitting in THEIR ROW, in THEIR seat, on THEIR PEW.  They may even have the brass plaque to prove it. 

You get one of these plaques when you donate large sums of money.  I guess they feel that they paid for their seat.  God forbid anyone, including a visitor, sit in THEIR seat.  Believe it or not, they will actually ask a visitor to move out of THEIR seat.  I’ve been there, done it, and bought the T-Shirt.

Old Fuddyduddy churches have the following in common:

a.       Very few children or youth
b.      Bad music – (30 year old Hymnals)
c.       Will not accept new ideas.  This would mean CHANGE!
d.      Small attendance
e.      Frustrated Preachers – (especially if they are younger)
f.       Old and grouchy Fuddyduddy’s
Fuddyduddy churches are struggling in many communities.  They are struggling because the older parishioners are slowly but surely dying off and there are no young people taking their place.  Who wants to go to a church where you sing funeral dirges 3 or 4 times in an hour?  And when I say an hour, I mean 1 HOUR!  Lord knows what will be said to the pastor if he goes 1 minute past noon.

Who wants to attend a church where modest spiritual expression such as lifting up your hands, are frowned upon?  If I wanna say Halleluiah, I want to be able to say it without some old “Blue Hair” glaring at me.  (Can I get an Amen here?)  The funny thing is, I almost fit the “Blue Hair” category.  I'm not blue... I'm silver.

I want to lift up my hands and sing a new song of joy and celebration for my God.  I want to FEEL the presence of God in church.  And ya know what, Hymn #278 by Anonymous, just doesn’t quite cut it; but Jeremy Camp does.

I recently attended a local church of the “Fuddyduddy” variety.  The younger people, (30’s & 40’s) started an early morning celebration service to bring a more contemporary worship style for those who wanted it.  This service was not ALLOWED in the sanctuary, as it may disrupt the way “we have always done things”.  The Fuddyduddy’s absolutely refused to support it.  They talked bad about it, and one actually told me this…  “I don’t think that kind of music should be allowed in church.  It breaks the rules.”

Here is our conversation.

 “Whose rules?  Your rules or God’s rules?  I asked her.
She glared at me and said, “Church rules.”

I smiled, held out my bible, and softly said, “Show me.”

“It’s in there.” she said.

“Show me”

“You need to read it for yourself”

“I have read it.”  I said.  “The word “Sing” is in the King James over 100 times, and I have read “Sing songs of gladness…”, “Sing songs of worship…” Sing songs of joy…” but I have never read “Sing songs approved by the church”.  (“Deer in the Headlights” doesn’t quite capture the look I received from this lady.)

“Maybe you’re right.” She said with a snarl, “But I don’t like it.”

I smiled, touched her arm, leaned in close to her ear and very quietly told her, “It’s not about you.”
I pointed to the sky.  “It’s all about Him.”

I paused to let that sink in a bit, and went on.  “And it’s about all those little children that are running around this church.  This church building belongs to THEM, not you.  YOU are just the current caretaker for THEIR future.  Don’t mess it up.”

She looked thoughtful for a moment and slightly nodded her head.  She said, “You may be right.  But I still don’t like it.”

WOW!  Ya see the problem.

There are many of these churches out there and they are STRUGGLING!  Many of them have actually had to close their doors because they can’t pay their bills.

Hmmm…  I wonder why?

If the term Old Fuddyduddy fits you...

Open your eyes and look around at your dwindling membership.  Take a good look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself this question.  “What is my legacy?  Will God be proud of what I have accomplished for HIS church?  Am I doing what HE wants?

Open your hearts and minds and let God inside for a change.  Do what God leads you to do, not what “Church Rules” dictate.  ‘Cause if ya don’t, your legacy is gonna be more empty pews, possibly boarded up doors, a loss to the community.  But more importantly, a loss for God.

Don’t be afraid of change.  Step out of your comfort zone.  Let ‘em wear blue jeans and listen to contemporary music.  Let ’em lift up their hands and praise God.  Let ‘em shout a joyful noise to the Lord.  Let them say “Amen” or “Halleluiah” without glaring at them. 

Bring ‘em in.  Train ‘em up, and send them out to lead others to Christ.

Let YOUR attitude reflect the simple joy of being one of God’s children.   Let God’s light shine through you and reflect on to others who don’t know Him.

Don’t do it for you.  Do it for HIM!

Leave your legacy.

Part 2 – “Church Lite”


“Church Lite” is a fairly new style of church.  The Church has been around a long time, so when I say “new”, keep in mind this means about 20-30 years ago. 

“Church lite” is exactly what it implies; the Gospel on a diet.  It’s kinda like a Chrystal Lite.  They have a lot of flavor, but ZERO calories and NO MEAT.

 “Church Lite” comes in many flavors and they describe themselves in different ways.  Here are just a few of my favorites.

We are a Non Denominational Church.  (ooooook-really?)
We are a Multi Denominational Church.  (uh huh)
We are a Modern, Friendly or Loving Church.  (to everyone or just the clique)
We are a New Beginnings Church.  (I actually kinda get this one)
We are a Life Application Church.  (Huh?)

I could pick on them all, one at a time, but they all do the same things so I’ll just generalize. 

These churches really know how to put on a show.   They are BIG.  They are FLASHY.  They have full blown Rock & Roll Bands, Orchestras, and HUGE Choruses.  They have Modern Hi-Tech audio & visual electronics running on computer systems that are Big & Bad enough to fly a mission to Mars.  The last one of these I attended had more BIG flat screen televisions on the wall than I have ever seen on display at Best Buy.  These guys have ABSOLUTELY GOT IT GOIN’ ON!

These churches have all the conveniences too.  They actually have Coffee Shops, with Baristas to prepare your Sunday morning brew.  They have bagels & cream cheese, donuts, croissants, etc.  They have little Bistros with tall chairs and tables, some of them outside on the patio. 

And don’t forget their flashy book stores that stock the latest plethora of Christian (?) Self Help Books.  They all have catchy titles such as “Never Give Up”;   “Run for Christ”, “Hit a Homerun for Jesus”, etc…   This is all starting to sound a bit like the Sports section at Barnes & Noble isn’t it?

PEANUTS!  POPCORN!  CRACKER-JACKS! 

This leads me to ask the question… Does all this “Smoke & Mirrors” actually work?  Surprisingly, Yes it does… for awhile.

These churches have done quite well.  They attract new Christians who are looking for a spiritual awakening.  They also attract those who have become disillusioned with church; usually those who have left churches similar to those in Part 1 of this series.  Some of these churches actually bring ’em in by the bus loads every Sunday morning, at least for a while. 

For new believers or people who have not gone to church for awhile, “Church Lite” is a breath of fresh air.  Good food, good music, good preaching with a positive, albeit, “Lite” message.  This style of church will whet your appetite, and leave you hungry for more.  Not a really bad thing if you think about it, BUT…   there is never more.

You get the appetizer.  You may get the second course.  But the main course, THE MEAT, never seems to come.  You are fed, but left hungry for more.  Again, not really a bad thing, BUT… you are left hungry.

If you attend one of these churches, over time, you will notice The Cycle.   “Church Lite” leaders have recognized this cycle and actually plan for it.  This is the 2-3 year time frame where new or disillusioned Christians become members, get fed a snack, and then leave to either find some real meat, or walk away from it altogether, starving. 

These churches typically teach what is called “Life Application”.  This is supposed to means that the Bible is applied to our daily life.  But more often than not, these churches end up applying our life to the Bible.  You really can’t do that.  It’s called “Bastardization”*. (Encarta - to lower the value or quality of something by combining it with something else.*)

These churches should teach “Bible Application TO Modern Life”. 
  
If they actually plugged the Bible into our daily life, it would make a huge difference.  Not just in you and me, but throughout modern society.   But nooooooooooooo.  “Church Lite” can’t make it too strict, or too REAL, or include too much MEAT.  It may turn someone off.  It may hurt their feelings.  It may turn them away.  We may lose some members.

Did John the Baptist and Jesus worry about some of these things?  Yes!  But they weren’t worried about filling the pews.  They were concerned with filling souls.  THEY DID NOT DUMMY IT DOWN!  They taught the TRUTH! 

And the truth will what

Set you free!

Don’t get me wrong.  These churches are great.  They have ALMOST everything you could every want except for the MEAT.  If you can find one of these with REAL MEAT, not some lame, “Lite” product, have at it. 

Heck, let me know. 

Just remember, they gotta have a REAL BAND too.

Part 3 - It's Not Your Church


#1 – YOU DID NOT BUILD IT!

It is not YOUR church.  Even if you pounded every nail, and mortared every the brick, it is not your church.  Jesus said,

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.   (Mat 16:18 KJV) 

#2 – YOU ARE NOT THE CENTERPIECE!

It is not YOUR church.  You are not the centerpiece.  That honor belongs to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
 
Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.  (Eph 3:21 KJV) 

#3 –IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY

It is not YOUR church.  The church belongs to God.  However, it is your responsibility to take care of God’s church.  Paul wrote,

Pay attention to yourselves and to the entire flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to be shepherds of God's church, which He acquired with his own blood. 
(Act 20:28  ISV) 

Let me be perfectly honest.  It doesn’t really matter which church you go to.  “Old Fuddyduddy” & “Church Lite” churches are fine if they work for you, and you are worshiping the Lord to your fullest. 

As long as you are furthering your walk in Christ; the size and style of the church you attend is really quite irrelevant.   But pay close attention to the “furthering your walk in Christ part.”

What are YOU doing to make your church a better place to worship?  What are YOU doing to assist church leaders in the ministry of your church?  What are YOU doing about spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ?

Hey…  “Old Fuddyduddy’s” need a place to worship too.  What can you do?  What examples can you use, to get them to lighten up, just a little, to reach more people?

“Church Lite” folks; the baby Christians, the disillusioned, need a safe place to go to be pampered, to be babied, to get them where they need to be.  If you like this style but you need more meat; you need to make a decision… Do I continue to be a baby Christian, or due I step out and become a leader?  Contact your church leaders and ask them what you can do to make it happen.

God sent His own Son to DIE FOR YOU.  The least you can do is give some back. 
Work together with your church to make it a place where ALL members can find their place.  Try new things.  Try old things.  Do whatever is necessary to support each other, and to reach others in your limited time on this planet.  Life is too short.  Make a difference.  Make your Father proud.

May God bless you all.

I will finish with the following excerpt from Ephesians in the Contemporary English Version (CEV)

3:6  And the mystery is this: Because of Christ Jesus, the good news has given the Gentiles a share in the promises that God gave to the Jews. God has also let the Gentiles be part of the same body.
3:7  God treated me with kindness. His power worked in me, and it became my job to spread the good news.
3:8  I am the least important of all God's people. But God was kind and chose me to tell the Gentiles that because of Christ there are blessings that cannot be measured.
3:9  God, who created everything, wanted me to help everyone understand the mysterious plan that had always been hidden in his mind.
3:10  Then God would use the church to show the powers and authorities in the spiritual world that he has many different kinds of wisdom.
3:11  God did this according to his eternal plan. And he was able to do what he had planned because of all that Christ Jesus our Lord had done.
3:12  Christ now gives us courage and confidence, so that we can come to God by faith.
3:13  That's why you should not be discouraged when I suffer for you. After all, it will bring honor to you.
3:14  I kneel in prayer to the Father.
3:15  All beings in heaven and on earth receive their life from him.
3:16  God is wonderful and glorious. I pray that his Spirit will make you become strong followers
3:17  and that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. Stand firm and be deeply rooted in his love.
3:18  I pray that you and all of God's people will understand what is called wide or long or high or deep.
3:19  I want you to know all about Christ's love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is.
3:20  I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God. His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen.

Can I get a Halleluiah!



 PEACE!
 

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