My husband and I were driving around town today chatting about a local mega-church who seems to be taking over the city. The newest campus they planted in a small rural area was forced to offer two services on Easter because their launch Sunday brought in 500 people. This church has talented worship team members, big screen TVs, whistles and bells, decorated hallways and cafes and coffee shops and telecasting and … and…and….
I get it. I really do. I started at a church like that, I was called to ministry in a church like that. But here’s what disturbs me. One of my students from the hood visited this church for Easter. He talked about the big screens, and how funny the pastor was. He was in awe of the feeling of being at concert but really being at church.. But then he says, “It was cool, but the pastor didn’t really talk about God much. He talked about himself and his own life.”
So over lunch, I asked my husband, “When did Jesus become NOT enough? When did the business of church, the business of advertising and gimmicks and enticing ministry get in the way of the purity of the Gospel?”
In his wisdom he kindly explained to my disappointing blue eyes that Church is merely a business these days. That when it comes down to it, even church is about making money, and numbers. I shook my head in agreement, because I understand there is a business side to doing ministry, I think Jesus even understood that when he so carefully picked his disciples-Matthew, Philip, Judas.
But it is Peter, who stood in the courtyards and preached the Good News of the Resurrection of Christ, and that truth, and that truth alone cut to the hearts of the people and they begged for repentance and baptism. (Acts 2) And it is Billy Graham who has stood in front of crowds, preaching the truth, drawing people out of their chairs, out of their old lives and into something new…thousands and thousands…and millions of people.
In a world of comfort, today’s church is becoming more and more guilty of becoming like that world, instead of standing apart from it. The church wants everyone to feel comfortable, what’s the most comfortable chairs, and sound level? What’s the most comfortable place to leave my kids? What’s the most comfortable message I can hear so that I feel good about who I am and what I am doing?
Jesus was not in the business of making people comfortable. In fact, quite the opposite. People were offended by Him, and his congregation, so to speak, would often be split. Some believing with conviction, and some walking away shaking their head because they did not want to be uncomfortable. Jesus let them go. He did not entice them with a free basket of fish if they would just come back. He did not ask them to complete a survey so that He could follow-up with them and make sure they really liked Him. He spoke the truth, and He allowed the truth to speak for itself.
I’m not ignorant or blind to the realities and the changes in our world and culture. I don’t need an explanation of church growth, or statistics on the importance of numbers in a church plant. I just wish that we could, as a church, re-discover a revival of simply Jesus being Enough.
What are your thoughts?