I’ve encountered two very different takes on the church in the past twenty-four hours. One article is titled “Is Church Life Stifling Your Creativity” by Donald Miller and is located here. The other article is titled “Church Can be Fun” by Eric Rauch and is located here.
The first article is brief; the author makes his point and encourages his readers to go forth and be creative. I have no problem with the creative process; God made us to be creative creatures. He did not however give us license to pursue our creativity in such a way that abandons all thought of Him and His holy requirements of us. He is, afterall, our Creator, King of the Universe, Sovereign God, Mighty, Omnipotent, I could go on and on. What I mean to say is we essentially belong to Him and should pay attention to what He says. And He does have quite a lot to say. He put it in a book and lest we forget He has something to say, He also sent His Son to earth and named His Son – The Word.
What follows Miller’s article is a string of comments by people who feel set free, positively liberated to create with abandon, never minding what those stuffy traditional church going types think. Essentially the whole spirit of the conversation is pick your favorite commercial slogan: “Obey Your Thirst” or “Just Do It” and let nothing stand in your way, que sera sera.
I don’t know the general age of those commenting but I’m guessing there is probably a good percentage of twenty-somethings. I’m old enough now that I can usually gauge the age of most internet commentors without actually seeing their birth year. Each age group has their own set of characteristics which they seem to follow in general. I’ve noticed a pattern of angst among many twenty-somethings. They largely reflect a general despair that follows them about like a dark cloud and they readily latch on to writings such as Miller’s, I think, because they like to view themselves as persecuted and misunderstood. I personally know several twenty-somethings that reflect this behavior, they are on my Facebook friends list and I get to read daily about their trials and afflictions. To be fair there are also some forty-somethings who also daily voice their horrific circumstances in life. Horrific circumstances like: “I hate my job”, “I hate my co-workers, they’re all idiots”, “I have a paper due in three different classes this week”, “I am so bored”, and things like that. Add something as stifling as church to this mix and you have a very sad lot of people.
Now compare that to the second article where Rauch mentions a bumper sticker he has recently spotted claiming that church can be fun. The aforementioned people group who finds themselves stifled and bored by church would be interested (maybe?) to learn that there are others who would like to make traditional church a little more comfortable for them. I know a pastor who offers door prizes to coax people into his church. Showering folks with even more material wealth than they already have however has its limits. These people are bored, stifled, and misunderstood for goodness sake! You can let them throw pies in your face till the cows come home and nothing will change their dire circumstances!
I would like to add here that Rauch is not advocating ‘fun church’ and he makes some rather good points in his article about ‘fun church’.
I think something is being missed here about the purpose of church in the first place. Yes, when you become part of a church you will eventually get your feelings hurt. Yes, you might feel judged at times. Yes, your needs might not be met. But here is what we must not miss. There is a God. He made things, lots and lots of things. He has an order, sets of rules for the things He made. He lets us discover some of those rules in nature like the law of gravity and laws of physics. There are other rules though which he doesn’t want us to discover on our own and so He had them written down and put them into a book which we call the Holy Bible. They are not man-made rules. They are God-made rules. He made the church an authority in a believer’s life that should be acknowledged and obeyed just like He made governments which rule society at large. I am not an authority unto myself. I have authority figures over me which God put over me. Not because he wants to stifle me but because He loves me. I read that in His book. There is much more in His book which governs my life as well. I belong to Him, my life is not my own. I need to be reminded of that daily. Interacting with others in my local church helps to knock the rough edges off of me as I knock the rough edges off of them. In the end we will be polished stones.