What do you think about when you think of “church”? Are there vivid pictures in your mind of stained glass windows and pipe organs? Perhaps rows and rows of wooden pews fill a stone cold marble floor, uncomfortable enough to keep the oldest elders awake. Some people may have images of corrupt preachers and immoral priests standing behind the pulpit ready to brainwash our children. Becoming more common in Western Society are the ‘modern’ services with near rock band worship services and fancy graphic presentations to wow the masses during the sermon. Whatever your flavor is for the month, I can pretty much guarantee that the Christian church has something to fill your plate.
Shopping for the ‘perfect flavor’ my wife and I landed at a little community church in Pacific Beach several years ago. Not too big, not too small, rockin’ music and a pastor with great inspiring messages every Sunday. For the first time in a long while, we felt at home. It was as if we finally landed in a place that had our shape of puzzle piece available. We plugged in.
The funny thing about being a part of a church is as time goes on, you tend to become more and more numb to the reason you ever came there in the first place. Your involvement just becomes routine- not that it is not done for God’s glory, but it is just another thing to stack onto the plate. You wake up on Sunday, go hang out with good friends, worship God, and go home in time to attack the daily Sunday chores.
A couple of times per month, I am the computer nerd in the back of the service firing off the fancy graphics on screen that help people remember the words of the songs we sing. They also keep people from having to bring their Bibles to service because the scripture verses are on screen. I often wonder if my volunteer activity is making our members lazier. We have taken the hymnals and Bibles out of our churches, and replaced them with fancy graphics and spoon fed gospel.
If I sound a little bitter here, it is not because I don’t believe in my service to the church. God gave me a talent for graphics and ‘computer stuff’, and I am more than thrilled to be giving back to His kingdom. The thing that drives me crazy however is the crutch things like multimedia and high-tech sound systems have become to churches of today. I started to think about what in the world we would do without any of this. Would people still come to church? Would more people bring their Bibles? I hate to think of my honest answer to this question.
A church not too far from my house literally spent hundreds of thousands on a new sound system, stage, and multimedia setup. Thousands of visitors every Sunday get a full blown rock concert with some Bible thrown in. Why don’t I see more love around Point Loma with such a draw? It this return on investment defined by a headcount at an alter call, or a world of Christian people that love their neighbors more than themselves?
All of this brought me to the question of why we are doing all of this in the first place? Pews, chairs, hymnals, media screens, pipe organs, electric guitars, fancy lights, stained glass. Why do I show up each week to flash words on a screen?
A friend of mine just called me. He literally JUST called me after I finished the last paragraph. He called to thank me for all I do at church with the multimedia. I just froze. Heavenly Father, you always amaze me….
My friend is the worship pastor and he just wanted to let me know that he sees my heart in all I do for people there. He wanted me to know how much he sees my multimedia gift as an act of worship that is blessing others around me.
I believe I just heard the voice of God himself. I am shaking….
This is community….This is the real church.
“Church” is where we all gather and use our gifts to glorify our God and bless our community. If fancy graphics, loud music, stained pews, and flashy show are there without a servant’s heart- it is all meaningless. Let’s all put our very best at the altar no matter what that gift is. The Church has evolved as our talents and interests over time have instilled in us new gifts from our Creator. Let us not lose sight of what all of this is about. Let it all be an act of worship. This is “Church.”