Monday, February 08, 2010

Friendly Fan

Twice today’s inbox included conversations pertaining to the idea of church services being “seeker-friendly”. When did plain ol’ “friendly” lose its effectiveness? And when did friendliness trump Spirit & Truth when organizing corporate worship?

When I first visited IBC, it was my habit to slip in the back doors a few seconds after the evening service had begun - after dropping the boys off at AWANA. Folks were nice enough, but it was the Spirit's sweet yet powerful dealings that I was drawn to. The truth of scripture. The spirit of worship. The honesty and humility of people who obviously loved each other pouring their hearts out in prayer. It was such a welcome, comfortable place...but not because I knew all the people...I knew a handful of names and only recognized a few more faces. Not because I knew "the drill". Sunday nights were each a little different and there were no bulletins. (I thought it was Levitical law to print bulletins!)

“But you were already a believer,” you point out, “and already a Baptist!” (Well, I have worshipped at predominantly Baptist churches my whole life, but Jesus wasn’t Baptist, and that’s a “whole nuther” blog. J

What if we were to remove the spiritual element for the sake of analogy...

I know very little about football. Let’s say Bob is an avid fan. I know because of his speech and his sweatshirts and the fact that he doesn’t answer the phone on Sunday afternoon. If I were to attend a game it would be overwhelming. Certainly if Bob had invited me or recognized me at the gate, I might be able to relax a little and see it as almost exhilarating: He and all the other folks who share a passionate interest and enjoyment of football all jammed into the stadium, concentrating on something bigger than any of us. My wardrobe and lack of face paint would mark me as a visitor. I wouldn't know when to stand or when to sit. I wouldn't really feel comfortable cheering...even if I could assess an appropriate time at which to do so. The stats and jargon would be foreign. If there were a printed program I could glean some context clues, but most likely I would walk away knowing those guys simply lived something I didn't. BUT if the seats weren't too hard and the bathrooms were clean, and the people were kind, I'd probably agree to attend again. Shucks, it's possible I'd learn what I needed to learn and begin to enjoy the sport on my own and invest in season tickets.

Acts 17:24-34″The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands….From one man he made every nation of men…and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being….When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, ‘We want to hear you again on this subject.”

God digs seekers. His creation and calling of them is part of His plan. But if somebody’s seekin’ - they done already been saught, know what I’m sayin? God wants to be found and known and loved. When faced with the truth of Christ, some may sneer, but some will believe.

We need to deliberately and demonstratively love others…even befriend them! And when we meet together, we should focus our energies toward contemplating and celebrating God’s goodness and holiness…no matter what that ends up sounding like or looking like…hopefully it would never be the same twice.

I think He can handle the rest. It will be His plesaure.