Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Guest Blogger...Gina Conroy

It Just Makes Me Wonder…

The doors swung open, and I stepped through the red velvet curtain. A gentleman dressed in a red knee length suit jacket greeted me with a smile and handed me a paper. As I walked down the plush red carpet, dark silhouettes assaulted me with bright flashing lights. I stepped into the smoke filled room, momentarily blinded by the flashing bulbs and fog. The smell of buttered popcorn and espresso wafted through the air. When my eyes adjusted to the scene, I almost gasped out loud. I wished the smoke hadn’t cleared so quickly. Dorothy, with Toto (a real live dog) in hand, smiled us. Beside her, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, waved. To the right, a giant mechanical elephant and jungle man greeted us. Further up ahead, CDs, books and t-shirts were available for purchase. I had to blink twice to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I’m really glad I didn’t pinch myself because it wasn’t a dream. It was Sunday morning church.

I’ve mentioned before how after 12 years at our church we felt the prompting to find a new church home. We settled at a hip church for about a year, but after a pastoral turnover felt it just wasn’t the right place for us anymore.On our quest to find a new church home we’ve run the gambit, attending a tradition denominational church, to what I call a “condemning” church where the whole time your repenting from what an evil sinner you are. Then there was the “African” church, the “radical missions” church, the “laid back flip flop wearing pastor” church, the “mega” church, the “conservative” church, etc, etc. While we enjoyed certain aspects of all these churches, they just didn’t seem to be the right fit. Still we haven’t ruled out all of them for the simple reason that we attended most of these churches during a special program.

Case in point. The church we attended on Sunday. Their theme was “At The Movies.” Now, I have nothing against having fun in church, but when it seems to come before everything else, that bugs me. The praise and worship seemed more like a rock concert, and I had trouble worshipping. The service, though entertaining, was obviously seeker friendly. I came for meat and got a milkshake.

Now I know churches like this have their place. In today’s society sometimes you need the bells and whistles just to get people through the door. Still I couldn’t help thinking about Jesus when he overturned the merchant tables in the Temple. He said, "How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" (John 2:16).

I just couldn’t help thinking that if in an attempt to make church more fun and attractive, maybe we’re trying to sell Christianity. If Jesus walked into some of these churches would he pull up a seat or start overturning tables? It just makes me wonder.Think about it. Jesus wasn’t popular. He wasn’t attractive. He didn’t have a mega church with the latest audio visual equipment. Kids didn’t have jupiter jumps and arcades in their church service. His sermons had no bells or whistles (except miracles :)), but what he had was the truth. Like I said, I like to have fun in church and fun has its place. But when we place that above really connecting with God, it just makes me wonder…

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Reprinted with permission

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