Visited a local church this Sunday. We’ve gone there before, they are a church “plant” of our old church. I was assured they are independent of the old church. We’ve gone before and not had too many issues with the sermons. Since this church is closer to our home by twenty minutes, and services start later, we had an easy morning getting there on time. It’s a smaller congregation, smaller town, so there’s less materialism in dress. People do dress up, others are casual, but it’s not the same as the larger church we attended. Not many had grey hair at the old church, not everyone is like this at this local church. Songs were a mix of modern and hymn. I’d say they are a comfortable place to worship, and the pastor is humble. They do have some signs of having the same themes, but not nearly as strong as the old church.
Today was not good, however. There was a guest speaker. His sermon was essentially the Ortberg book. He told the story of Peter, and yet focused on the other disciples saying they were “boat potatoes” and at least Peter got out of the boat. Peter’s gift to Jesus was getting out of the boat. He talked about how we need to reach this generation and they are leaving church because they’re bored, bored, bored. And, wouldn’t it be awful if all we did every day was take care of our lawn, work, and die? We need to not be afraid and take risks. He used a the scripture with the parable of the talents from Matthew 25. The man who didn’t reproduce the talents was afraid. He said, he feared the world, life’s problems. He began to talk excitedly saying something like this, “the man was afraid, this life has many problems, it’s risky out there…the economy’s bad, the gas prices are down…I’m safer at home.” Okay, look that one up. The man says he is afraid not because of what’s out in the world, not hiding at home doing nothing. He hides what his master gave to him because of his fear of the master who was a hard man. He was afraid of the risk because of the master’s reaction if he lost the talent all together. The master sees him as lazy and wicked, which may also give insight that the man may have just wasted the time away, wasted the talent because he didn’t want to go and work.
In the course of the sermon, this man mentioned Ortberg by using his book title (and I bet the perspective from the book, anyone know?). He also knew Max Lucado, dropped that name right away. He also mentioned a quote by Tony Campolo.
My problems with the sermon were that the text was obviously twisted, if even slightly. This man has obviously been paid to speak and should have his stories fit well with the text of scripture. The call was partly to energize the youth because they are bored. If youth are bored in churches that preach the truth, our job is NOT to entertain them, it’s to continue to teach the truth. This theme was drilled into us by our old chruch, not at all interested in seeing that theme run it’s course again. The basic message was that we need to get out and do something. This man doesn’t want any one of us to regret our lives, we should have interesting stories to tell in our old age. We should do something like go on missions trips, take risks. Okay, but what if our entire lives are to be JUST raising our family, or being a school janitor? There are plenty of people who do serve God but their lives aren’t full of large risks. What of all the families and individuals throughout history that just did ordinary things like taught a Sunday school class? What of the people who work meals on wheels or become a nurse? What of those who are faithful to take their children to church and teach them well? What if they don’t do anything out of the ordinary, but their grandchildren do because of their influence and faithful life? I’m sure every life will have a human interest story to it, whether good or bad. That is NOT the point of our lives. I would rather be a nobody with a nothing story at the end of my life if my God is pleased with me, and says, “well done, good and faithful servant.” A boring old life with menial labor and ordinary tasks is not a shame. We are to do what God calls us to do, and if someone shares the gospel where they are planted, serves and gives when they can, and sees fruit from that, who is to say they are not doing it right? These guys make it seem like we all have to be out doing something extraordinary to please God. Usually, it’s a story good enough for a sermon or to quote in a book. Who does this please? God or men, hmmm?
So now the dilemma. Do we return, do we share our concerns? I say we meet with the pastor and bring up the concerns we have with the guest speaker.
On another note, many people have contacted us from the old church wanting to meet…most are in leadership. They want to know why we left. My husband has a meeting upcoming already. We shall see what this accomplishes. For a family the elder said would not be noticed if we left by the pastor in question, we sure are being noticed by several others. What is wrong with this one pastor? I believe he will know we’re gone. Either way, it only matters if God wants him to notice. Each meeting is another chance to tell someone the truth. Hopefully something good will come from all these opportunities. God willing.