Rethink Church

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Image by: Ryan Smith

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest something you may not like. I think we need to rethink how we do many things regarding church today. Over the next few weeks, I’ll delve into different aspects of what we do when we do church and ways to rethink it. This isn’t meant to be a criticism, but something that hopefully begins to spur thought and critical thinking.

For many years, I’ve devoted my time in ministry to reaching out to those outside of the sphere of Christian culture and influence. To you, you may call them non-believers, unbelievers, pagans or sinners. To me, I’ve learned to call them friend because at our cores we are all just sojourners in this world looking for a place to belong and wanting to know that God loves us. Through these relationships, I began to train myself to look at how we did church differently. I began to look at church through the eyes of an outsider.

In this post, I’m not referring to church as a body of believers or even the building (which is a whole different discussion), I’m talking about the corporate worship gathering. For most of you that’s a Sunday morning service. I grew up immersed in church, so this process of looking at church differently took a bit of time, but I’ll have to say that it really began to change me and my faith.

Think about it for a minute. Be honest with yourself. Church is weird. Just ponder this thought before you dismiss it.

Think about it.  Nothing is ever explained. Everyone just follows this unspoken pattern. There’s standing and there’s sitting. Then, there’s singing when you stand and singing when you sit. There’s a time where people shake hands for 30 seconds. There’s a plate that’s passed that people put money into it. And eventually some guy (or gal) stands up and talks for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour – then you go home.

I had this friend that when I would bring her to church she would always get creeped out. Anytime there was this display of unspoken herd mentality (i.e. people following the unspoken pattern or flow), she would whisper to me playfully, “Cult!” She was joking (kind of), but she actually had a great point. To the outsider, none of this made any sense. And, frankly, to the insider I’m not sure if it did either – they had just been assimilated into groupthink.

Isn’t it funny to begin to question why we do the things we do?

My purpose for questioning here is not to merely mess with you, but to get you to rethink the things we do routinely without thinking. Is Sunday morning about you? Or is it about God? Or the outsider who is seeking to know more about God? To this, you may reply gleefully, “we, accomplish all of these every Sunday!” I’d challenge you that it doesn’t work that way. All of the above doesn’t work here. It’s like that Southern saying, “A little bit of everything gives you a lot of nothin’.”

I guess what I’m saying here is that intentionality is key. What is our purpose in doing these things and are we actually accomplishing these purposes? I’m not here to advocate one style or another, I’m here to advocate critical thinking. “Because we’ve always done it that way” is not a valid excuse.

Try this next Sunday at your church. Begin to think about how an outsider would perceive everything from the decor to worship music to the order of service. Ask yourself, “Why do we do it this way?”

It will really begin to mess with you – hopefully, in a good way.

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