Early last week two muscle massed men were working out at the community gym. One man said to the other, “Hey, I just went to that huge church (actually said the name of a local mega-church). It was like a movie theater! Lights, big screens, loud music . . . it had everything except a smoke machine.” Second man, “Yeah, that is better than all the old stuff that doesn’t make any sense. You know, when that church building was built, I was really hoping it would be a movie theater.”
It is amazing how listening to people for twenty seconds can provide a different perspective. I think it is fantastic that across God’s church there is room for all kinds of faith expressions. Some of these expressions are steeped in tradition with robes, choirs, candles and organs. Others are more modern with video projectors, lighted stages, bands, and movie theater stadium seating. Two things make these forms work. First is relationships. Organs yesterday, electric guitars today, who knows what the instrument of choice will be in the future. One thing is certain; it will change!! When it changes, the church will remain in tact through the connections people build with one another. One reason Christian Endeavor works is because this youth discipleship process emphasizes relationships. Relationships are built between adults who coach youth in ministry tasks. Relationships are emphasized through students regularly gathering. Relationship with God is developed through emphasizing the C.E. Practices- Pray, Study, Serve, Share, Worship. Relationships make the church! There has never been a church without a relationship; at least two people are always required!
The second thing making churches work is God’s Word, the Bible. Stop following the Bible’s teaching, or merely suggest the Bible is a book of stories, and uncontrollable conflict ensues. Suddenly you have people ignoring verses that either don’t make sense, challenge them too much, or just disagree with the way people want to live. This is life by chaos. Unity in this environment is impossible. Each person governs life by their own rules. Imagine a gym where every person tried to grab the same set of dumbbells at the same time all claiming equal rights in the moment. Chaos! A church committed to Biblical truth is capable of communion, connection, and calm in the midst of life’s chaos. Teenagers do not see this kind of peace as they look at society at large. They see confusion. They see a world without truth. What we can model to the two men at the gym as well as women in the park and children at the playground is that we, the followers of Christ, have peace. Our peace comes from knowing the Truth. Psalm 119:32 reads, “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free.” Freedom comes from following truth. Finding relationship in Christ with other followers of that truth is what makes a church. It is a church that all the music, lights, and latest technology will never ever equal.