How much do we really want the truth in church?
Probably not much…
Sadly, the church today waters the truth down quite a lot…you know that.
I think I have used this example before but I am going to refer to it again. A few years ago, a pastor in Hopkinsville [at a Methodist Church] was asked to move along to another church. I was told by a long-time leader of the church that he just preached too much heaven and hell. They had to let him go.
What does that mean?
He talked about salvation and the opposite too much.
Probably. Not what the church wanted to hear.
Today’s church is obsessed with numbers. Many pastors want large crowds. I understand that. A couple of years ago, I worked hard to do a men’s study in my home. I emailed, sent letters, announced from the front of the church, put notices in the bulletin, bought the food, prepped my lesson and have no men show up. Zero. It was just me and my lesson. It hurt not to have a number.
Pastors don’t want that.
They want large crowds.
To get that, what do they have to do?
Maybe water down the truth.
Keep this in mind. I am a trained speaker by trade. I spent 36 years trying to get students to analyze their audiences before they spoke before them. What does audience analysis mean? It means asking key questions about their audience like what does your audience believe about your topic? What is their attitude toward your topic? What types of people are in the audience [race, socioeconomic level, education, gender etc.]? What do they expect from you as a speaker? I told them the key to speaking success is knowing your audience.
Did Jesus have good audience analysis skills? Was Jesus obsessed with getting the numbers?
Look at Luke 8: 10. Jesus had just preached to a large crowd the parable of the sower and many in the crowd were confused.
“The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ ”
Jesus wanted quality, not quantity.
Today’s church is scared.
We are scared we are going to do something that will run people off. Pastor has a personal problem that gets rumored around church—people run off. Child care gets cancelled for an event—people run off. Service times get changes—people run off. Budget gets cut—people run off. Pastor preaches a message that steps on a toe—people run off.
It does not take much.
You see in Luke 8: 10, Jesus is saying that if you are really with me, you will get the parable. You will understand that to pour water on the seed planted on rock is a waste of time. To fertilize seed that will be choked out by thorns is a waste of time.
But what do we do in the church today?
Pour water on the rocks.
Fertilize seed that has been cast among the thorns.
That seed is not going to grow.
Church is about the worship of God. To go to church is to go to be with followers of God.
Pure and simple.
Yet what is church for many?
For many, church is just a place to go once in a while to be seen. It is just a place to go because Mommy and Daddy told you “you must go to church.” It is just a place to go to be a person who controls other people and in the process, the light gets shined on you and you like that light, you love it. It is a place to go for you to feel good about yourself; no one is going to ask you do anything really. You can do your “duty” for the week and go home and feel good about yourself for another week. There are a lot of reasons to go to church but they are not about the worship of God or the joy of being around other followers of God.
Why do people not like church?
Some who don’t go, don’t like to be in the company of people who don’t look like they are following Jesus, don’t like to be in the company of people who don’t live like they are following Jesus, and don’t like to be in the company of people who don’t act like they are following Jesus.
What is Pastor Chan saying in Chapter 5?
Church should be a place for us to go to be with God. We are challenged there. It is not all easy. God asks us to do things that may be hard. That’s ok. He is trying to sow seeds. Don’t you want to be the good soil that yields a crop, “a hundred times more than was sown?”
Or do you want to be rock. The seed is sewn but it won’t produce. All the water in the world can be poured on that seed and it is a waste of time.
*Inspiration for this post was from the Francis Chan video “If Jesus were the pastor of your church, you probably would not go there.”