One of the most mind altering phrases I have ever heard in church came on a Wednesday Night Service.
He got lots of suggestions:
More music/Less music/Different music
Keep the sanctuary colder/warmer
Bring in special speakers
Be less formal
Be more formal
Study this book or that book as a church
But as he continued to take suggestions, he noticed one that was missing. And here it is:
“To make my church experience better, *I* need to change. “
That’s right. No one said:
“I need to change. I need to be in the Word. I need to leave early to get here on time. I need to get to bed at a reasonable hour so I am not tired. I need to greet people with a smile. I need to listen to good things on the radio on my drive here. I need to stop fighting with my spouse and children all the way to church. I need to drive slower. I need to come into the church building every week smashing my worldly idols behind me. ” (Paraphrased from my memory, but originally spoken by Ross Brodfuehrer at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY)
Oh, and yes- I have idols. But I REALLY want to smash them on the steps on the way into church. I want to smash my idol of caring what others besides the Lord thinks. I want to smash the idol of false pretenses, and lose the plastic-fantastic facade that I am so fond of cowering behind. I want to smash the idol of being reserved, and being safe. I want to smash the idol of perfect children. I want to smash the idol of unforgiveness to any who have hurt me. I want to smash my pride, my foolishness, and my judgmental heart. Oh, I have so, so many to smash.
I was reminded of this concept again while reading a book by Brent and Deanna Higgins. Their son had an amazing ministry and one of his prayerful hopes was in uniting all the Christian churches. I do not want to ruin the book for you, but his life, and eventually his death did accomplish much in the way of bringing together all kinds of believers mobilized for a single cause.
Here is the quote from the book that brought Ross’ message home again. “You should solve the problem rather than cause the problem. There is no perfect church. To elect a new pastor won’t make a perfect church. To elect new deacons won’t make a perfect church, to get more staff or do more programs won’t make a perfect church. Summary: nothing will make a perfect church because a church is made by human beings. Satan will try to create a problem in the church, but the church should be too strong and too spiritual so that Satan can’t turn the focus of the church from missions to the problem.” – This was written when B.J. was nine years old.
These poignant reminders are humbling and sound. I really must consider where *I* am the problem in my church and see what I can do to resolve it.