My son and I were talking a couple days back about his opinion on church. He basically said that perhaps our old Pastor spoiled him, but he thought church should be the place where you can ask questions and have people try to give answers. "Always have a ready defense of your faith", remember? But the last couple of places he went either looked at him as if he came from the moon, where he asked a question and was given an "I'll get back to you" that never occurred, or he got a "how dare you question MY theology" response and said, "That's not what I was doing, but have it your way." In other words, he was encountering the same thing that happens anytime you bring a large group of humans together "to do something in harmony"- the leadership waters stuff down to reach the widest arc of audience, and the listeners all make their own personal judgments.
A lot of you who follow the Sunday Message here have expressed that you are not currently going to church. We're "disjointed," if you will. Not all of you have the same reasons, and certainly mine is not the same as KCs or even yours. One such friend brought the "controversy" to it's crux in Hebrews 10:
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Now some people will say, "That verse shows that you absolutely, positively NEED to have a butt in the pew on Sunday to be saved." But does it? If I might quote from said friend:
If we in the Church are honest with ourselves, we have to admit there is this unspoken understanding, that we dare not be too truthful in church. Meaning, we don’t dare say, “Hey! This is wrong what we are doing here,” because we know it won’t be liked, appreciated, or condoned, and we will be disliked or even reprimanded and none of us wish to be disliked or reprimanded...
Gonna be real honest here. I haven’t “left the church” but I haven’t been “doing church” in a church building on Sundays for awhile. When I say I haven’t “left” the church, I mean, I am not currently in a building called “church” except on Thursdays, and I am also not saying I will never return to a church building on Sundays. ..For such a time as this, I need to be as free as possible to gather with Him instead of scattering, because He tells me the harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few.
So, while I’ve been being the Church at home, in the world, in the grocery store, on the street, in restaurants, the post office, with my grandchildren, with public school children, Facebook and more, I’ve been hearing from more than a few on Facebook, as well as to my face, that not being in a church building doing corporate worship with a body of believers is not an option for believers...
If worship is believed to be what happens only when a body of people gathers together to pray and sing songs, we are more than just hostile to the Gospel: We’ve made it something that sounds good, feels good, and lets us believe we have done what needs to be done in order to get to heaven...
The plain fact is, that verse in Hebrews doesn't say "gather for services", it says the purpose of gathering is to exhort one another. If that verse is truly the definition of church, then Sunday Message is a church. I'm not claiming that, BTW, just saying.
KC also brought up that the lack of being in a church makes him question what HE does for Christ. He described going to a friend, asking, "What do you think about God, " listening, and then saying, "Here's what I believe." I told him the Spirit gives all kinds of gifts, and we are called to do many different things for the Kingdom. Some are more expressive, some are just "planting the seed." Not everyone is going to be Billy Graham. Just like sitting in a church isn't worship in itself, standing on the streetcorner with a PA system isn't in itself service.
I see my calling as kind of a Barnabas thing. (No, not Barnabas Collins, either!) To be an encourager. To show you guys what I mess up, and what God then tells me about said mess-up. That way, you know, "I'm not alone in this", and "God loves me anyway." So my message today WAS going to be from Amos 8, about the "famine in the land for the Word of God", and my realization that not only do we sin because we get away from the Word, but that even if we're IN it, sin can pull us away. But, guess what? I look above and see God had something else to say.
I used to get that a lot when I taught Sunday School- have a lesson I worked all week on, and be in the shower Saturday night and have God come in and go, "Here's what I want you to say." And it always worked better, believe me. Just like today.