Tuesday, July 18, 2006

pray for grumpy

This weekend an older guy came up to me a in a public place because he recognized me. He had never been to Faith, but he had seen me speak. He began to tell me about his church background and all the people he had known in the “Wesleyan Church” (the network we’re part of at Faith Church).

Then he made an interesting statement. He said, “I’d never again go to a Wesleyan Church.

Well that was a pretty brash statement so I decided to bite on the hook: “Why is that?

He said, “Because most of them don’t even have Sunday night services anymore. Many don’t have Wednesday night prayer meetings anymore. It’s a real shame.”

I asked again, “And why is that a problem?

He said, “Well the Bible tells us that we’re supposed to tithe. And that’s more than just money. That’s also 10% of our time. I go to a good old fashioned church and people come to services 3 times a week. I remember as a kid we used to even have an afternoon service on Sunday. That was 4 times a week. People should be more committed.”

Well, at this point I could have chosen to keep my mouth shut or I could speak up. Which do you think I did? I decided to dive in. He was making a pretty judgmental statement about these modern churches, so I decided to ask more about his church, “Wow, that sure is a lot of going to church and just sitting. And what exactly do YOU do for outreach?

He said, “Well, our pastor goes out calling every week. He visits people in the church all the time. He used to do more, but his wife just died recently…so we understand why he’s slacking off a little bit.” (I’m not making this up. This is really what he said.)

I pushed back a little harder, “I didn’t ask about the pastor. I asked about the Christians in your church. You said that people should be more committed. And that you’re glad because the people of your church come to 3 services a week. That’s a lot of time to come and sit. What are you doing for outreach?

He said, “Well sometimes the people go out and do calling too. They go out and visit the sick and shut-ins.”

I said, “That’s great. But that’s visiting people who are already part of your church. How are you personally trying to go out and share the love of Christ with people in your community…people who have no connection to a personal faith in Jesus?

There was no answer.

I hope I didn’t push the boundaries to the point of rudeness. He was criticizing churches that were not like his. I was trying to get a handle on how his church was trying to accomplish the Great Commission. Is God calling us to COME AND SIT? Or is God calling us to GO AND SHARE?

I finished the conversation with an offer of peace saying, “Well, that’s why I’m glad there are all kinds of churches for all kinds of people. Your church will connect with people that other churches may not. And the churches that you don’t like will hopefully be reaching people that would never connect with your church.”

May we all do our part in the Kingdom with grace and love.