Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Corporate Mindset of the Modern Church

What separates a church from a corporation? And I'm not talking about the technical or logistical things, such as taxes and whatnot. I'm talking about motives.

Every corporation has a motto. A one-sentence summary of their core values and what their company stands for. The motto is everything, but the motto is also a lie. Corporations have a bad reputation for a reason. They are cold. People are reduced to numbers. Numbers that are often indispensable. They run on profit and efficiency, not compassion and emotion.

So again, I ask: What separates a church from a corporation?

The answer should be obvious. In fact, we are probably quick to point out the differences. But what happens when we look deeper? When you take a closer look, especially at the members of a church, the lines between business and church start to become blurry.

For example, let's talk about volunteers. There are many ways in which the church is lacking, but is there a bigger instance of the church acting like a jerk than when it comes to volunteers? The way they are treated, the way I have been treated as a volunteer is just wrong. Not only are so many people guilted into serving, but we expect them to show the same amount of dedication to volunteering as they do their jobs. They are exhausted. Seriously, churches have you taken a look at your volunteers? Do they seem to be serving from a heart of joy? We are literally running people into the ground. And yet, we still find the audacity to chastise them out of a misplaced sense of self-righteousness. 

Oi. I'm sorry. This is something that fills me with so much anger. Actually, the whole topic just makes me mad. 

I know I am hard on the church. But you end up being the hardest on the things you love the most. And guys, I do love the church. Which is why it literally breaks my heart to see it in this way. I know the only way to change what I see is to love the church. And I am trying. It's heart hurts for the church. I want so much to see it become what it should be.   

I just...I have sadly witnessed one too many churches that have adopted a business-like mindset. And nothing seems more illogical to me than that. A church should not be run on what is most efficient or profitable to itself. At it's core, at the fundamental level, a church should be run on heart. Otherwise what's the point? Without compassion and love, all you're left with is a cold building filled with obligation and apathy.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pardon my Insignificance

I am never made more aware of just how truly small I am then when I look up at the stars. 

I suppose it's a lot like staring at the ocean. It goes on and on, further than your mind can even seem to comprehend. And while staring at it, it seems to get bigger, and closer. Almost to the point where you think you can reach out and hold it in the palm of your hand. However, we all know that can't be done, because the ocean and the night sky are things that we can never fully touch.We can't ever think to contain it. Coming face to face with that much raw beauty really forces you to put your life into focus.

James 4:14 says "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." 

The fact that James refers to our lives to something as fleeting as mist really puts things into perspective. I mean..can you imagine what our lives would look like if we truly realized our own insignificance? 

I know that sounds rather mean, but that isn't my intention. It's just that I have the unfortunate habit of letting the silliest of things get in the way of my relationship with God. I allow these completely mundane things, whether it be a guy, anxiety over something out of my control, or just an "off" day, to become giant hurdles in my walk with God.

For example, tonight was amazing. I am apart of an on-campus ministry and I can't even begin to tell you what a blessing it has been to me this semester. And tonight the speaker was ON POINT...actually the whole night was just on point, there's no other way to describe it. And yet, even while listening to this amazing message, I was struggling to keep my focus on the right things. It was shifting to myself and I was letting someone determine my level of confidence and self value. How utterly ridiculous of me to focus on something so small.

I just feel that if I truly had a clear understanding of what James is saying, these things wouldn't matter so much. I'm not saying that they would go away and staying focused on God would be as simple as tying your shoe (which okay, maybe not the best analogy...learning how to tie a shoe can be a quite difficult goal to achieve).  And I think since we live in a fallen world, there will always be things fighting to keep our attention away. However, I believe I would operate with a less self-involved mindset if I truly came to the realization that my life, as a whole, is nothing but a disappearing mist.

We never want to openly talk about it, but our time here on earth is so short. There are days, or even years that may seem long, but in the grand scheme of things, our lives are so insignificant. And instead of spending so much energy focusing on the oh so very dumb, small things, why not use it to actually do something worthwhile for God? 

Just a thought.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sleeper Awake

"Therefore it says, 'Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'"
-Ephesians 5:14

Have you ever felt a burden before? They can be quite troublesome sometimes. I have one and I think it's quite obvious what it is for. The reason I blog about the church all the time is because it weighs on my heart and my mind daily.

(Before I begin, I would like to say that I am including myself in this scolding.)


Last Sunday I was at church and I noticed that so many people around me were talking and having their own conversations during. And I know I shouldn't have let it bother me. I should have just ignored it and kept worshiping. Except I couldn't because nothing bothers me more than people being disrespectful during worship. It just...oh my it is a huge pet peeve. And while it frustrates me, I can't imagine what it must feel like to the worship leader to look out on the congregation and see this. It must not feel very nice. 

What hypocrites we are. We sing songs about fire and a passion for God that burns deep within us, but we can't even summon enough energy to pay attention during a fifteen minute worship service. 

I know I rag on pastoral leadership quite often but it's no wonder so many  are discouraged. We as a congregation are discouraging.

I know that we all have our low moments and can't have those "mountaintop" moments every single day of the year (although it would be rather lovely, wouldn't it?) I understand that. In fact, I'm quite guilty of determining whether or not a service was "good" by what songs were played, or how talented the worship leader was. Which is entirely wrong and ridiculous. However, what I can't seem to understand is this persistent feeling of apathy and deadness that seems to permeate so many modern church services. 

Where is our fire? Our boldness? Our life?

Come on, Church.