I believe God is revulsed by boring churches.
At the same time, I think there are very few things indeed that make the enemy of our souls happier than a church full of people who cannot force themselves to stay awake and pay attention. A nice, warm, safe church where nothing ever happens, where no one ever experiences anything that rocks their little world, where you can come in, put your five bucks in the plate, and walk out mentally wearing your little “I Went to Church” button with a check-mark on the list of things you didn’t want to do but did anyway to be a “good person” is, in my opinion, a super-highway to hell paved with shiny –and useless– good intentions.
Many years ago, there was a pastor fresh out of Bible college who chose the most un-churched area in the country he could find and went door-to-door asking people two questions:
- Do you have a church home? (If they said they did, he thanked them and moved on to the next house. If they said, “No.” he asked them Question #2.)
- If you don’t go to church, why not?
The most common answers to Question #2 were: A.) All the church wants is my money. And, B.) It’s boring.
That Pastor was Rick Warren. And fifty years later, Saddleback Church in Orange County is the largest church in California and one of the largest in the nation. Almost 24,000 people attend each week. Over 50,000 people have been baptized since its founding.
Now, this blog is not about Saddleback Church. It’s not about any disagreements you or I may have with Saddleback’s pastor, it’s theology or techniques or marketing strategy.
Whatever Saddleback Church is, it is not boring.
And, if you find Saddleback Church controversial, good!
Jesus was plenty controversial. If Jesus had not been controversial, He would never have been nailed to the cross.
And that’s the point. The Bible is absolutely full of stuff that is most decidedly NOT boring.
You can start the non-boring stuff in Genesis 1:1.
God created the entire universe and everything in it into being by simply speaking it into being. He created everything in the universe out of nothing but His spoken word. And, Jesus was there in the beginning when it all happened. (John 1:1) In fact, everything in the universe was created in Him and through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
That’s pretty controversial. If we really look into that and all it entails, it’s anything but boring.
Jesus was not afraid of controversy. He seemed to go out of his way to poke and prod the big-shots of His day. One does not call the people in power a nest of poisonous snakes and publicly, to their faces, ask them how they plan to avoid going to hell without ruffling a few feathers –or scales, as the case may be. (See Matthew 23.)
And, if you think the Old Testament is full of boring stuff, how about having the Youth Group study Judges 4 where a lady named Jael nails a guy’s head to the floor with a tent peg? As a bonus, there’s some pretty deep theology in that story about the role of women in the Church.
God is not boring. Jesus is not boring. If church is boring it’s because we make it so.
Yes, it’s far easier to avoid controversy. It’s far easier to live our lives in safe and mundane ways that never ask people to take a risk with their lives and really stop and think what it means that Jesus is LORD, just like it says on the Kinship Radio tower.
See, because if Jesus really is LORD, He is LORD of all. There is no half-way. There is no doing things to get by until we die and can go to heaven and sit on clouds and play harps forever. (Now THAT would be boring!) No, if Jesus is LORD, He is LORD of everyone who ever lived and He came so that they could be saved! AND– He wants us to participate in telling people He did that.
He wants us to love people we don’t know, who may look different than us, who may do things we don’t like or don’t understand, who might even frighten us.
God wants US involved in His plan to save the whole world! That’s an amazing, earth-shattering, world-changing concept! God WANTS you! He doesn’t need you because He can accomplish anything He wants without you, but He WANTS you involved to share in His joy, His grace, His mercy, His LOVE!! (Yes, that was worthy of two exclamation points.)
In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus speaks to the seven churches. He has a message for each of the churches, but the way I read it, the one church that seems to irritate Him the most is the boring church:
“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” Revelation 3:15&16 (NLT)
When we pad Christianity with a bunch of soft, safe, warm pillows, we rob the Gospel of its power and we cheat people out of the Kingdom of God. But, when we get over our fears of answering the tough questions, of acknowledging that we’re just as messed up as the rest of the world but somehow God’s grace in Jesus Christ makes it all alright, of admitting that we’re not perfect and it really doesn’t make sense that He loves each and every one of us anyway, the love in all of that destroys the last little speck of “boring” in the Church and we’ve got a shot at being real with people.
Jesus came to restore humanity’s relationship with God. He came that we would be adopted into the family of God, that we would sit at His banquet table as heirs to His kingdom and eternally rejoice and enjoy the incredible, inconceivably glorious love and fellowship with Him that He intended for us since before He spoke all of this into being. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15: 11-32) I think it’s pretty clear Jesus implies there will be music and dancing at that banquet feast.
If you think that’s controversial, good. Let’s talk about. I guarantee neither of us will be bored.
On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper. Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight. The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps. As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below. Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s alive!” Then they all went back upstairs, shared in the Lord’s Supper, and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until dawn, and then he left. Meanwhile, the young man was taken home alive and well, and everyone was greatly relieved. Acts 20:7-12 (NLT)