I slipped quietly in the back door. Pausing I scanned the heads for the blonde haircut attached to my friend. Naturally she would be sitting on the second pew…I hate walking in late, in front of strangers, during the special music…but I did!
Her church was beginning a revival. It is an old mainline denomination, whose revival fires have fizzled out decades ago. Now it is a quaint elderly congregation whose average age is probably 70.
I found it interesting that my friend goes here. What was the attraction? Although the membership is probably full of devoted Christ followers, who offer love, mercy and compassion, I doubted if anyone would notice. The sanctuary, the music and the whole atmosphere was reminiscent of the 1920’s, a wonderful era, but hardly relevant. A museum to religion would be an apt description.
When I sat my “hinder” parts recognized the wooden pew. I found myself reverting to childish squirming. I fully expected to be pinched.
The congregation sung a rousing round of old time gospel hymn favorites. It brought back fond childhood memories of attending church with my grandparents …the kind all children should have.
The pastor introduced the speaker. His topic was “Following the Lordship of Jesus.” Not a particularly flashy or unique topic – I fought a yawn.
Using the parable of the lost sheep, he began to expound on Kingdom thinking. In the Kingdom thinking, the shepherd leaves 99 sheep, alone, unprotected to find the one lost sheep. It’s great if you’re the lost sheep, but if you’re in the 99…well that’s another story! Wolves might come and eat 20. And if you’re the owner of the herd, what would be more profitable: rescuing one or cutting your losses for 99?? Then to top it all off, after the shepherd returns with the lost sheep, he butchers a couple of the 99 to throw a party to welcome the lost one.
Remember the demoniac and the pigs? The demoniac was healed, but the pigs? The pigs died. How would you feel if you had been the pig farmer?
This stocky aging pastor suddenly had my attention. Where was he going with this?
He then began to take apart the normal church-goer’s attitude. We have settled. We have built our churches around what is comfortable for us. We have lost touch with the Lost. Our indifferent attitude essentially says, “Go to Hell!” to the Lost.
That certainly stirred a sound check on the hearing aids!
He began rattling facts I know by heart, but facts that haven’t radically motivated me into greater action.
87% of all people who ever accept Jesus as savior, do so by the age of 18. That means I have to be relevant to the young, if I’m going to impact the world.
95% of all young people have never been in a church…not for Easter, Christmas, a wedding or a funeral. They have never entered the building. If I expect them to like organ music…I’m completely out of touch. Organ music equals - Tales of the Crypt – not - Tales of the Christ!
92% of people under the age of 25, have never heard the name Jesus Christ, except used as profanity. Why doesn’t that bother me? Why haven’t they heard me talk about Jesus as Christ and Lord in the proper divine context?
Then he presented his challenge…true worship is what happens when someone encounters the Lordship to Jesus and surrenders to His agenda. Have I redefined the real meaning of “worship?” Is my worship merely “R&R?"
Could it be…all about me?
I was afraid to look around the room at the faces. How could any of us revamp our lives to reach the youth living in the Projects a few blocks from this building? Where did we start?
But the pastor was right. Unless something reignited Christ’s mission for the Lost in this congregation, this church would eventually and literally die off – relatively soon.
Changed lives are the only eternal currency. How much would I bring with me to Heaven?
How could I avoid this place in my life as I age?
I knew there has to be a way to still reach the young as I age. Moses, Joshua and Caleb were all prime examples of octogenarian conquerors who lead a nation of 20 year olds. What was it about these men that kept them pushing the envelope until their deaths?
What was it about their “worship” that flowed past their Sunday services into the streets of their communities?
All I could come up with was passion. Passion controls your life, be it bass fishing, Internet, shopping or Jesus. Could it be that my worship no longer ignites passion in me? Am I so concerned about not offending, that I’ve tempered the fire in my heart? Have I become so “churchy-fied” that I don’t burn with contempt against Satan’s merciless all out slaughter and destruction of the Lost?
Have I become lukewarm? Yuck! Gag! Spit!
What woman wants to be pursued by a “lukewarm” lover? Not me! I want to be chased down by the red hot, heated flames of passion of a man who will do whatever is necessary to win my love!
Do I love the Lost enough to do whatever it takes to win them? Would I be willing to “die” to my agenda to embrace God’s agenda?
Isn’t that true worship? Is that worshiping in Spirit and Truth?
This pastor’s closing comment was priceless… He asked us to go a little N.U.T.S.
I guess when I once again become passionate in my worship, and willingly embrace God’s agenda…the Spirit will be turned loose in my community through me and Jesus will be not just be my Savior, but my Lord.
© 5/7/04 Lissa M. Lee