This morning I awoke to more snow. It is the sequel to "Winter I" that was all about subzero temperatures just yesterday. I used my very cool Snow-Joe to clear the walk and the driveway and brushed off the cars for the three drivers at my home. I got in the shower and in the midst, I lost all motivation to drive 30 or 40 minutes in the snow to church. I asked God, what should I do? I decided that the answer to my prayer was that it wasn't important to be there today. And no one was upset! Wow, what is going on?
A few minutes ago, I decided put on some worship and look at one of the blogs that I follow "Cruciformity"-- and there it was. "Sometimes taking a day off for a real Sabbath is healthy for the soul. And it's productive." Excellent blog mate!
I also had a brief discussion with my wife about our nearly eight years of church history together. We have survived the "sin police," we have been "niced to death," we have been "programmed," we've been dumped by mentors and pastors, and we have come to the place where the crippled relationships we have experienced, are more than we can stomach for another day. As a couple we have now experienced religious duty. (Pun intended.) And yes, I know I am the common denominator.
I am firm believer of being part of the solution or keeping quiet. Today, I am not keeping quiet. I have had enough shallow religion and I can't take any more. Now I know why more than 70% of the church stays home on Sunday morning! We the people of the church desperately need to look at how we interact with others. There was a time when I would have said, "Oh, it's the cool New Englander' that are not reaching out." When you look at the stats, and see where a lot of our teens are spending time, it's everywhere that people are not going to church, not just my local.
When I studied US history in grade school, they used to tell us that Puritans spent all day in church on a Sunday. I have to say my early religious experiences were minimal-- and if I had to sit next to that smelly neighbor kid for another 20 minutes, I would have killed someone right there in church. I want to know what it was the Puritans were so attracted to, don't you?
I hear the buzz word "relevance" all the time, and yet my kids roll their eyes at wimpy worship, and boring sermons. For the record, a lot of adults are bored too. If there is no anointing on the word, then make it short! For God's sakes, can we start making people feel significant instead of running them through the greeter-wringer and filling out cards? Ooooh and a free gift! If the church is going to be a light, then we need to put oil in the lamp!
Before you dismiss this as one of my sovereign rants, I have a few questions for you.
-1 Does the gospel you preach daily, get people to want to go to your church with you?
-2 If you filmed your Sunday service and posted it on the Internet, how many hits would it get on YouTube?
-3 Did you talk to a stranger today about something other than what you wanted to talk about?
-4 Have you invited a newcomer for a non-religious activity-- like coffee?
-5 Have you scheduled an activity in your home that was family friendly?
-6 Have you asked God who you should be fathering/mothering/mentoring?
-7 When are you going to pick up the phone and ask that person for dinner? You know, the one that you keep on promising that you'll have them over? It's been a year! Be sure to ask their forgiveness for not keeping your word.
-8 Is all your talk about your Jesus, or theirs?
-9 Are you calling folks, or waiting to be called?
-10 When was the last time you did something in secret?
Our men's group had a friendship questionnaire booklet that we found online. It was a good start. You can probably find one in Google.
We need to be Jesus to others, not act like religious zealots. Christianity is in, Church-ianity is not. If we can't relate to one another, then we'll never be relevant!