I believe in the Church
Does the Church have problems? Sure! That's the basis for many things that I write and speak of. I want the Church to be focused outward as much as inward. Go hand out cool water on a hot summer day in the neighborhoods at 11 am on a Sunday morning when folks are doing yard work. They sure don't expect a church person to visit them at THAT time. Don't start off witnessing...just give the water, a smile and let them know God loves them. Sow the seed. Send a group to the grocery store on a Sunday morning during the Christmas season to sing Christmas Carols for the shoppers. Do a worship service on a Sunday morning at local nursing homes and assisted living homes. Reach out to people where they are and, definitely, think outside the box. It's no secret that I frequent a Bar Church on Tybee Island. Not just because it's at the beach, but because (in my opinion), it is what a true church in that area should be. Reaching people outside the steepled buildings where they feel looked down upon and uncomfortable. Meeting in a bar, providing breakfast and lunch for whoever comes by, delivering meals during the week, nursing home ministries, weekday praise music under the pier. Whatever it takes, folks.
The Church is the best thing we have going for us today. In this country, it is a place of safety to worship the God in which we believe without worries of government intervention. It is a place where we can meet with fellow believers for study, companionship and worship. The Church is a place that is universally recognized as being a place that you can go if you need to find God or to share Him with others. It is a place (for me) of music. The music of God and of believers. Being the unashamed traditionalist, I like the quietness of a soft organ prelude to prepare my spirit and my heart to meet God; a few strong hymns of faith (yes, hymns) that help me to praise God with my voice with words of old and new composers and authors; special music by instruments, soloists or groups that help me focus on God before I hear the spoken word of the Pastor. And then...the wonderful hymns of invitation to rededicate myself to service or for others to ask Jesus into their lives. I Surrender All, Out of My Bondage, Only Trust Him, Just As I Am, Oh, Why Not Tonight....so many of them that are no longer sung, but are greatly missed.
Oh sure...it's okay to throw in some of the more contemporary songs like "Here I Am to Worship," "Shout to the Lord," "How Great is Our God" on occasion, but keep the repeats to a minimum and let the words stand for themselves. And, keep the screeching instruments to a minimum so that I can hear the words and worship....not feeling like I'm at a rock concert and need ear plugs. And...never, ever...never ever...bring a smoke machine and flashing lights into a church where I am for a service. But, then again....this is me. Maybe not you.
The Church is where you can begin again....a new start....a new fellowship of believers. The Church is having growing pains as it tries to figure out how to meet the challenges of a 2013 world of technology and other entertainment options. But, the Church does not need and should not feel compelled to change the message in order to reach people. The message of Jesus is the same....yesterday, today and forever. It never changes. Love God, Believe in Him, Love and Tell Others.
I believe in the Church. I believe in a Church full of human beings. Human beings that sin and make mistakes and get angry and sometimes don't act so nicely. But, God forgives and the only way we can feel that is to gather with our fellow believers....and God. Sure, I can feel God on a mountain top or on a beach, but I draw my strength and purpose from the Church. The community of believers. So, that when I drive down the road and see a church where I have attended, I can happily say, "Hey! That's my Church!"
"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25)