Have you ever been sitting in church and there is someone, not too far away, being a little disruptive? How about a student across the room that seems to not get the "subtle hint" from the usher? Or that teenager that is too busy texting on the phone or passing notes to his neighbor?
Yeah, I know! When I'm sitting in church, I want to hear the sermon, I want to get the the points down on my outline, I want focus on what I can get out of it, and I want...
So, my next question would be this - As Christians what/who is church for?
I think, so many times we get caught up in what we can get out of church that we lose one of the purposes of church. Now remember I didn't say "The Church." There is a difference: "The Church" is a group of individuals, gathering together, who all have one thing in common - a saving knowledge of who Jesus Christ is. On the flipside, church is a place that people, unbelievers and believers, meet and hear the Gospel.
That's right, unbelievers. And what can I expect from one that doesn't have a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ? With years of experience dealing with teenagers, and many coming for their first time, they are walking into a place that is intimidating. "The Church" can sometimes do a poor job of welcoming one who doesn't look or act like them. But why should they? Remember they are not; they don't have a relationship that has transformed their life. Some churches have traditions and rituals that can easily say to an unbeliever, "I have to do this," "I have to remember these," or "I have to look/dress this way to be one of them," and that to a non-believer is an unobtainable expectation.
The question is: What or Who is church for?
If you will, let me break it down to two different types of people.
The unbeliever or non-believer come in with very little "church manners," if any. Why do we hold them to this standard of knowing how to act? It reminds me of my own children. I know I have told them how to act. I know I have told them to obey the first time. Do they always do it? NO! Why, because they are still filled with a sin nature. And because they are young and don't have a relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ, which means they don't have the Holy Spirit guiding them and giving them discernment. Just because I have told them once, doesn't give me the right to belittle or scold them when they don't live out the standard I expect from them. Instead, I gently and patiently walk with them and guide them. I want them to know I love them and I accept them. Now I don't like or accept their behavior, but I want them to be around me so I can point them in the right direction on a path that will hopefully lead to a personal relatinoship with Jesus.
Now, the believer. What is the role of the believer in church? Okay you ready for this? Because, according to Scripture, you have a huge responsibility. After this you are going to wish I hadn't posted this for you to read. But it is pretty simple: Serve, Pray, Give, and Understand.
You say, "I do all those things." I believe you. I do! I think that most true believers are doing all those things. But we are going about them all wrong.
Did you know that statistics say that this Millennial Generation, some 75 million, only 4% have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Let me help you out, 9 out of 10 people, 25 yrs old and younger, will spend eternity separated from God. And we are concerned about how they are dressed, how they act, or how loud they play their music. Seriously, is that what we are so concerned about? Forget the fact that 9 out of 10 of them are going to spend an eternity in Hell. Churches have gone about it wrong for years now. The church has been more concerned about "whats in it for me," that we are watching a generation come and go without a Savior. But as long as I'm comfortable. Yeah, as long as I'm comfortable!
I said it's simple; but yet there is a lot of responsibility.
Serve: As a believer God has not called you to sit in a chair (pew) and be comfortable. Get out their a make a difference. Volunteer, lead small group, provide doughnuts, or drop a note in the mail.
Pray: Believers need to be praying for each other and for the next generation.
Give: Time, Gifts, and Abilities. What is it going to take to reach the next generation? What can you offer to reach them?
Understand: Here is where a lot of folks are going to click the red X at the top right corner of the screen. But as believers we have to understand that church is for those that don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you church is not trying to reach the lost, than I would say that you are amidst a church filled with a bunch of warm, comfortable bodies. We have got to UNDERSTAND that we have to be a house all about reaching the next generation.
Matthew 19:13-15 paints a great picture of who Jesus is drawn to.
"Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
"The Church" has abused church for far too long and has made it a place where they are comfortable. Church needs to be a house for the next generation. For the 9 out of 10 to come and hear about the power that can transform their lives.
I know that Matthew 18: 2-5 is about spiritual birth. But who did Jesus pick? A child. Why didn't he call out an adult?
Don't kid yourselves any longer - be "The Church" that is really reaching the next generation.