I told her that they start in California. Everything starts in California. I didn't really know why when I told her that; it just seemed like they do.
Recently, she reminded me of that conversation. She's now 26. For some reason, that left a lasting impression on her. We discussed it and reasoned that things start in California because of the influence that Hollywood has on the rest of the world. Why is that? Maybe it's because the people are famous and get a lot of press? Maybe it's because we're enamored with famous people and want to emulate them? Whatever the reason, it does seem to be the sad truth. Come on, if you or I tried to start a trend, like wearing plaids and stripes together, we would get strange looks and not much else. But the woman who names her child Apple can do it and start a trend (I don't know if she did in fact do this...it's merely an example...but she did in fact name her child Apple...not a trend that took off. I don't know too many Apples).
Have you ever noticed that the church follows trends? I guess they are "church" trends, but they seem awfully close to the world's trends. We model our church administration, our music, and even the church atmosphere after the ways of the world. Since this is my blog, I can have my opinion. That's all it is. An opinion. But I think that we're wrong there. We should not be influenced by the world. The way we "do church" should be an example to the world, not the other way around.
In an effort to be more "seeker friendly" we've become more tolerant, even adopting some
In an effort to make church more attractive to "non-believers," we've become more laid back, more casual. Some churches even have a coffeehouse approach.
In an effort to reach the younger generation, we've raised the volume.
In an effort not to offend anyone, we've watered down the gospel.
It's not my intention to point fingers. Not all churches do these things and not all of what we do is "wrong". I think that we need to find what works, what attracts people to our particular church. And when we discover why our numbers are growing, keep doing it. But when did we start trying to make people comfortable? When we become too laid back, I think that we lose our fear and reverence of God. It's discomfort that changes people, not comfort. Again, we've got it backwards.
Ultimately, what will attract people to church is their need to fill a void that nothing else will satisfy. That's why they're seeking! And in our efforts to keep up with worldly trends, let us never forget that. The need for a Savior. And the need to be accepted, loved and cared for.
What attracts people is authenticity. Too many people, especially the younger generation have been turned off by the phoniness of church. They see us as hypocrites. Saying one thing and doing another. Acting one way at church and another way in the world. I've had more than a handful of young people tell me that (and I've had my share of people tell me that I'm a hypocrite).
I certainly hope that when I meet new people at church, I'm authentic. I hope that when I say I'll pray for someone, I will not only pray but remember to ask them the next time I see them how things are going. And beyond that, ask what specifically I can physically do to help. Or offer to do something.
It's time to do church outside of church. It's time to start trending authenticity. Instead of trying to emulate the trends of the rich and famous, let's try emulating the trends of the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps 50:10) and shows the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us through Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7).
He is the Rich and the Famous, the One we should desire to follow. Trends will come and go, but the love of the Lord Jesus Christ will last forever.
Blessings Along the Path,
Song of the Day
Famous One (Chris Tomlin)