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Fellowship?

May 4, 2010

One of the hardest things about moving to a new city is finding a place that you feel comfortable to worship. Don’t get me wrong I don’t need to attend church to know I am a follower of Jesus Christ, but it is important to feel connected to the Body of Christ. I have to remind myself that Paul’s letters to the different churches of his day were his best efforts to keep people walking in step with God. You get a group of people together and there is going to be brokenness. Let’s face it the churches today are just like the churches then, broken.

My wife decided to attend one of the mega churches here in Colorado. She enjoyed the music and everyone greeted her with respect. Then she came home and told each of us about her experience. Nothing earth shattering for her, but she said she enjoyed the service. Our family thrives on intimacy.

This week we received a letter from the senior pastor of the church that she attended. It was a form letter about how everyone was welcome and they hope we attended their services. Inside the letter was a brochure about all of the small groups available, family resources and their model of how you become a member of their church. It was a beautiful presentation obviously done by a professional marketing team, and it had a purpose.

 As I looked at the material I got this overwhelming feeling that something was really wrong with this picture. Jesus’ model of giving us his life looked totally different from the mail I just received. He poured his life into twelve men and asked them to duplicate what He had done for them. This looked much more like something a business would send out to increase their revenues. Now I am not knocking this particular church because most churches are guilty of this offense. Let’s face the facts most of the churches are run by deacons, elders and pastoral staff that have a goal of making their church grow. Intimacy is an after thought.

Have we sold out the Body of Christ because our culture dictates that efficiency, professionalism and profitability are more important than knowing the stories of another man’s  life? I hope not.

 My heart ached for the Body of Christ because we are not just numbers on a role. The truth behind following Christ is being known, intimately known. Walking with God hand in hand with your brothers is His wish for us. The key is Love! I have a novel concept maybe we should grow people!

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2010 6:22 pm

    I agree the best way is walking intimately with God alongside others trying to do the same; others we have come to trust and rely on, as we become trustworthy and reliable. Sharing the journey.But, how do we get to that point? Sometimes church as we know it today is the only way some will ever be exposed to this. I am always torn between church being “attractive” to draw people in, and church being real. Maybe it needs to be both?

    • May 5, 2010 5:18 am

      Love it David! I am so glad you are coming to Colorado!!!

  2. Josh permalink
    May 4, 2010 7:07 pm

    I’m with you bro. The buildings we call church aren’t satisfying the depths of our true heart. I know of the church you are talking about, and I’ve never been a room so big w/ so many people, and felt so closed in! All I can say is, wanna go for some coffee? – I need some church.

  3. Reggie permalink
    May 4, 2010 7:23 pm

    I have spent a lot of time thinking about this subject. In the last 5 years my opinion has been all over the map. Here is my take at this point in my life:

    1. The church is a business. Any way you slice it this is the bottom line. It may do great things to impact the community but I’m the end it must do what is necessary to survive.

    2. I expect too much from the organized church. I want to get all my needs met here. I expect it to be more spiritual and holy than any other organiztion. I expect the pastor to know God better than me. I want to find my communiity here. I am destined to be disappinted.

    3. I need to broaden my view of where God can show up. The world is full of people who both know and need God. When I start to look around where I live and work, I can find all the community and real relationships I need.

    I am accepting that the organized church will never meet my expectations or real needs. I just need to know God better. I think I’m better off having been disappointed with church. It has driven me to go after what I really need. Otherwise I would be hiding behind the facade of religious activity.

    My .02……

  4. Jeff Robinson permalink
    May 4, 2010 8:35 pm

    I’m with you, Mike. Christ said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” We spend way too much time, in many churches today, relying on our own marketing and strategic planning ideas rather than striving to BE the church that Christ called us to be. Loving God first, loving one another as brothers second, making true disciples, sharing all things in common, etc…these are rarely the priorities they should be in the contemporary church. Thanks for having the courage to write about this!

    • May 5, 2010 5:08 am

      Unfortunately, Jeff I am guilty to. I want my ministry to be successful, so I use all of the marketing skills I have gained over the years. I am not only shedding a light on churches, but myself as well. Take care man!

  5. beth elliott permalink
    May 5, 2010 1:29 am

    I attend a small very intimate church and I do so enjoy it. We have an inexpensive sound system and not alot of fancy lit. That is what the Lords church is to me. you ust decide what it means to you!

    Neither is wrong, only different. I am sure these days it takes all kinds and whatever reaches the masses I am for. I will pray you and your family find the church home you are looking for! God Bless Y’all and thanks for ALL the inspiration.

    • May 5, 2010 5:06 am

      Beth I love the fact that intimacy is the key to your experience. I think many people like a bigger church because it allows them to punch their card on Sunday and avoid exposing their faith to anyone. God will reach the masses one person at a time. Love you girl!

  6. May 5, 2010 3:58 am

    I have to agreethat it seems most churches try to push their agenda rather than just show the love of Christ.I think proably every church is guilty of this, even (gulp) my church.

    • May 5, 2010 5:04 am

      I think you are right Lyon. It is about numbers, but that is God’s responsibility one man at a time. Love you brother. Miss seeing you guys!

  7. Ralph McLelland permalink
    May 5, 2010 7:15 am

    Bet you thought I was not going to respond to you bro. Look at how Jesus did it. Most of us, me included, have forgotten how His plan was to work. Maybe we never knew it because it was never explained to us in church the way a lot of us have now come to understand it. I do have to give the church credit, its how I was raised and if not for that I would not be where I am in my walk with Him. Church is the only way that many will ever experience God. That makes my Heart hurt though. We have to live in community. What does that mean ? It means sharing our hurts, joys, trials, praises, everything about our life with someone while allowing others to see where Christ is in the picture. Others have to feel and see Christ in every aspect of how we live. They have to understand it is not about being good, it’s about walking with Christ. To gain a ture, gut level understanding of how Jesus did it. To gain that understanding you might want to consider reading ” The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Robert Coleman.It is a fairly simple process to follow Christ if we just would. We don’t hear that much about the disciples bad side. Surely I did not say that did I ? The church needs to explain this process more.It is about the HEART. Whats the subject mentioned in the Bible more than any other ? The HEART. Love what ya do do brother. Keep it up. See ya in a few weeks.

  8. Tracy Gore permalink
    May 5, 2010 7:59 am

    After an ugly divorce (including two wonderful children) I strayed a bit from Christ and the church. Although I tried to be, I wasn’t happy with my job, my day to day life and the kids saw that in me. The three of us met with the pastor one day to discuss divorce, the past, the present and the future. The pastor himself was from a broken family, which made the kids, and me, feel a little better. We left the meeting with a renewed feeling of peace.
    This was a very prominent church, with a “wealthy family” congregation. I only chose this church because my children enjoyed the kid’s activities and the bonds they had with their friends. I had been raised by another denomination, in a smaller, closer bound church. So, in this big church, I was an outsider. Oh, everyone greeted and smiled, saying “hello, how are you?” on Sundays…..

    Several months passed after meeting with the pastor. Maybe this is my beef, and maybe I shouldn’t have expected a phone call, a note in the mail – or as technology provides now, a text or email, just to check to see how we were doing. Just a hello or smile before or after church on Sunday. Was I not tithing enough, participating enough – no I wasn’t. I was a single mother of two, with high tuition notes each month, plus basic life, a stressful job and an ex-husband who didn’t pay child support on time. I didn’t feel needed, wanted or liked – but I loved God, The Father and the Holy Spirit. I was bitter needless to say.

    Time went by, I met my new love and the kids loved him too. He attended church with us for several months and as a new “family” we decided to join in holy matrimony. We had a simple ceremony with about six close friends in the older chapel of this big church. After our wedding we still attended church regularly until my husband needed back surgery, I had breast cancer worries, and his father passed away, all within our first year. No one checked to see why we weren’t there on Sundays. Some old friends who were also parishioners of this church knew what was happening, but we didn’t hear from them either.

    Please remind me what a church community is about, if first and foremost they don’t care for the families attending?

    Wanted: a caring, local church.

    • May 5, 2010 8:08 am

      Tracy, I am so sorry for your pain. What I have come to realize is that the church is actually the people that love me as I am, and sometimes that is not found in a church building. Sometimes it is found in a coffee shop, a restaurant or even a bar. I have realized that what God longs for from us is intimacy with Him and with others who desire the same level of intimacy. God bless you and thanks for your story!!!

  9. Steve Tilly permalink
    May 5, 2010 10:05 am

    Mike,

    I can’t speak for any church other than mine. There are a lot of close bonds between different small groups of people that have formed naturally. Prayer and some discipleship does go on, but I wouldn’t say it’s a concentrated effort to do so. It just sort of happens. I don’t know if it happens on the level it needs to, and there may be some who are on the “peripheral” who have been left out of the process entirely. My gifts usually involve Administrative functions. I am really good at that and enjoy doing it. I have always been weak on the discipling and relationship building. My personality is not geared for that. It is not as natural for me as it is for some, so I have to really work at it.

    Organized Church still serves a vital purpose, and with all its faults, is the very glue holding this fragmented nation together morally and spiritually. But I still find myself thinking something is broken and needs to be fixed, and I think you are hitting at the heart of it. Bigger does not necessarily mean better. Not that we shouldn’t want our churches to grow, but maybe we do need to focus more on meeting the needs already among us. I think God has use for small churches as well as large. Large churches need to “think small” so that individuals don’t feel lost in the crowd (even though some want to be lost in the crowd). I think it’s harder today to get involved in the lives of people. People want to be private and continue to nurse their own private hurts. As you know, some have been hurt by “church people” in the past and therefore don’t trust them. I don’t know the answers, but I think you are onto something. We all must keep fighting the fight. As you know well, nothing worth having comes without battles.

    Steven

  10. Tracy Gore permalink
    May 5, 2010 10:57 am

    I didn’t realize the group I would be writing to until I made my comments and THEN read the other comments. I am very happy to have come across this group of friends and spiritual leaders. Thank you.

  11. Jeff Andrechyn permalink
    May 5, 2010 12:17 pm

    Mike

    I really enjoyed the blog and all the responses. So much has been said already but I loved Reggie’s response. It was so well thought out, clear, and articulate.

    So Reggie, well said and to point # 3, I would like to recommend a book called Divine Nobodies by Jim Palmer.

    Jeff

  12. Roane Hunter permalink
    May 6, 2010 8:58 am

    Right on bro! I describe my church experience as a love/hate relationship. I have been in solid churhces over the years and it was in that setting I learned a good foundation of scripture and knowledge of God. But it has been my recovery experience where I have come to know God’s heart and how much He loves and cares for me. In recovery and authentic men’s community (interchangeable terms in my book) is where I experienced Jesus wearing the uniform of His people – Jesus with skin on! In recovery we are fully known – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and fully accepted with no condemnation. We are encouraged to continue growing through the experience, strength, and hope of others desiring to walk with God in truth and honesty. We have to be very intentional in finding and developing this type of community because it isn’t going to happen in church. I am blessed to have authentic community in my life and it is my passion to carry this message to others. In church people only offer their good side, which at it’s core is dishonest and serving a false god. But the real Jesus we love and serve is good – church is broken!

    Bend the sails!

    Roane

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