Now I go to a pretty big church and we put on a pretty big show on Easter. So I admit, when I saw the tweet, I figured it was probably about a church spending way too much money on their production and not enough on helps. Which is kind of a legitimate gripe about a lot of large churches, but not automatically something that I personally would label a "sad story." I admit, I was really not prepared for the story that followed. You can watch the news video here about Jackson Helms being escorted from the service.
It's easy to look at this and assume that this is the result of focusing too much on putting together a schmancy service. A few years ago, I would have been right on that. Style over substance. Too cool for school. Caring more about getting butts in the seats than about caring for the butts in the seats.
And sometimes that's true for the big church. As we've seen in this example, it was pretty clear that the service going a certain way was more important than caring for a mom and her disabled child (and the rest of the family who was left behind in the sanctuary). People were hurt because they didn't fit with the style of the church.
What is easy to forget is that sometimes this is the case in the small church as well. The situation I wrote about on Tuesday happened in a small church. The style wasn't high-tech and put together, but it was theirs and deviating from that was seen as distracting. And people were hurt because of this.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what kind of church you attend or even if you attend church - the potential to hurt people because they don't fit in with your idea of how people should behave in a given context is there. We turn our nose up at the child who acts out disturbing our meal at a restaurant. We shout obscenities at the person in front of us who is driving too slow in the fast lane. We roll our eyes at the stupid barista who can't get our coffee order right.
Most of us who are Christian will say that we're the Church no matter where we are, but so often, we're not the Church anywhere. Jesus gave us a very simple way to show that we are his followers:
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35, NIV)We can do this in the big, glossy church. We can do this in the small, country church. We can do this in our homes. We can do this at the grocery store, at the ball park, at the mall. We don't have to follow an order of service, use a special liturgy, have an expensive light show or say the right words in the right order.
If it's our desire to draw people to Jesus, the only "how" that matters is love.
What is a way that you can show love to someone today? What is something that you like about a church that does its service differently than the way that your church does things?
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