Yes, I'm still on the church subject. I have grown quite fond of this subject over the past couple of years. How could you not during such an awesome season!
As I started coming back to church about 5 years ago, I couldn't help but notice the change that had occurred during my 'leave of absence'. I grew up in the church and at around 16, I completely stopped going. Not for any specific reason, I guess I just wanted to see something other than church (that's code for I wanted to party and drink and get into trouble--mission accomplished).
Now as an adult coming back into the church, I've seen quite the change from when I was young going to church in 'Bible-belt-Oklahoma'. I used to hear sermons that got right to the point, I saw people get saved, and I knew exactly what God was all about. I attended services where sometimes you left feeling pretty bad about yourself. Some of the sermons were sometimes so personal that it made you want to look around to see if everyone was staring at you!
Today, things are much different. Leaders are following a 'model' of how to 'do' church. The messages are watered down and the pastors seem to apologize for anything that might offend or convict someone. But isn't the Word supposed to do that? I mean if we aren't feeling convicted how can we get better? How can we change? There is nothing wrong with being wrong! It's how we learn and grow.
I follow lots of pastors other than my own. I listen to sermons online and read blogs a lot. I just want to see and hear what other churches are all about. I want to get a feel for what the Holy Spirit is telling the Church as a whole.
I wrote yesterday about finding a new church and how so many are finding it to be quite difficult. This isn't just a local problem ... this is happening all over the place! So much so that I hear the term 'church-hopper' quite a bit in blogs and articles.
My question is why? Why are people having such a hard time? I've heard lots of sermons about this time being a time of 'transition'. Could that be it? I've heard others talk about people just being spoiled about what they want out of a service-- leaving because of the worship style or the service time even. Why after so many years at one church would people just up and leave? I did it too!
Well, this is my personal take on it. I believe God is moving His people around in order to prepare the church. I'm not talking about your little tiny church in Farmtown, Ohio. I'm talking about THE CHURCH. I've heard lots of sermons lately about this being a time of restoration, preparation, learning, growing, and maturing as Christians. It's really cool to listen to pastors all over the world preaching the same messages. We have guest speakers at our church that come in and preach the same messages that our pastors have been preaching. It's an awesome time of learning and growing.
In every sermon I find myself searching for what the church used to be. I want to hear a message that convicts me! I want to see the Word radically change someones life in 45 minutes! Maybe it's just me, but I think the church is hungry for the Truth. Hungry for a pastor to get up and not care that someone might get offended at the message he just spent a week in prayer over. A pastor that only cares about his position with God! A message that made the pastor burn inside until he spoke it to his church. A message that went over the allotted time for service and even made people want to sing and worship AFTER the message! How crazy is that?
So just because we see people moving around and testing new waters doesn't mean that they're flaky or indecisive or quitting. If you're one of those people moving around, don't feel bad! God has a plan! I believe that it's just a natural glimpse of what is happening in the spiritual realm. Exciting, right? I think so too!