When You Get Nothing Out of Church

We are surrounded by the next big break through, the next trend, to current fad, “flavor of the week”. It’s the way the world operates. Constantly fighting for our attention because we become bored easily and whatever has our attention has our money. We also feel the pressures of social media, that tell us we need to show the world how much we have our life together. We tell the our friends and co-workers “We’re fun and exciting making a difference in the world!” Frankly, it’s all just tiring.

I have been reading through (little by little over the last few months) Mike Horton’s book “Ordinary” and have been reminded how much is sacrificed to go after the trend and excitement and avoid an ordinary everyday life. Horton puts it this way “The real problem is that our values are changing and the new ones are wearing us out.” It’s actually pretty interesting to think about it, when put this way. In pursuit of the excitement we pass over the opportunity to grow meaning where we are. To develop the relationships that are established and thus have any meaningful growth.

I was listening to a podcast this week and reminded that the trends and the big exciting draws are throughout the Church also. We want to come and experience something amazing, we want to be entertained. We’ve taken our expectations from culture, and imposed them on God’s Word and worship. The story needs to be moving and quick with action. Worship needs to be entertaining, with lights, drama, humor draped with the current hip tones. The idea of the ordinary means of grace, Word, Sacrament and Prayer, aren’t enough. We want more.

What happens after we hear the Gospel preached, partake from the Lord’s Table and are showered in his grace through prayer and singing? Sometimes you walk out feeling refreshed, encouraged, happy as you face the demands of the world. Sometimes you walk out tired, stressed, or anxious as you face the demands of the world. This first thinks, “I’m so glad I worshipped today” the second thinks, “I got nothing out of it”. Either scenario happens but the difference is our perspective.

The bottom line is that the Christian life isn’t like the life of the culture we live in. Jeremiah was a prophet for decades with no response from the people he ministered to. The apostles were all martyrs, save John who died in exile. And of course Jesus, who was despised and rejected by his own to the point of dying on the Cross where he was to endure the eternal displeasure of God on our behalf.

The Christian life is a wonderful life, but it is wonderful in the way God has said it is wonderful and not in the way the world has. What some may consider ordinary, plain, everyday, we call wonderful. The simple is beautiful and allows us to focus on the goal, our joy in Jesus. We have that modeled for us by Jesus, as the writer of Hebrews tells us

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2 ESV)

We don’t need a trend to know God is working, we proclaim Jesus is alive!