Today’s reflection is courtesy of Daniel Skillman of Willowick, OH. His thoughts are his own and I appreciate his permission to share them.
The Church is on fire. Burning to the ground actually. The statistics do not lie, even if they can not be trusted to predict the future with complete accuracy. We have seen them play out in Europe with her massive, beautiful, and now empty cathedrals. We have seen four or more decades of decline here in the States. We know what is coming.
The Church is on fire, and it would appear to have been caused by arson from within. It is not the “godless liberals” who started the blaze, or the agnostic and apathetic masses. It is the guardians of orthodoxy who lit the fire. The conservatives who insisted on border patrol, keeping the immigrant out, and the bloodline pure, conserving their ever shrinking inheritance.
Centuries of theological, psychological, and social incest have produced a generation of half-wits, and nitwits, and other children who are lame, blind, and deaf, but oh so unfortunately far from at least one form of dumb. They blather on about “God” ad nauseam making sense most usually only to themselves, and converting few but the gullible, and the easily manipulated. And converted to what? Dogmatic certainty about unproven and often unprovable statements, and an obscene willful agnosticism about both the real world problems that ail us and their solutions.
“What will fill the pews of our Church again, Pastor?” That is what they ask me.
The first thing I tell them, I think they’ll like. I say, I still think it is a worthwhile endeavour to fill the pews. More than worthwhile…it is important. The Church as conceptualized by the writers of the New Testament, yes, at least in part as an institution, is itself a necessary expression of the Gospel. Without it, Christian witness would go extinct within a generation.
However, the second thing I tell them is something that I’m not sure they want to hear at all. I say…
…If you want to get people into your Church, you must get God out of it…
As long as you view Church as the main event, and as long as you view what goes on there as mere education, and as long as you view God as a mere being, even the greatest being, your Church will continue to burn all the way to the ground, and if you ask me, I wouldn’t offer even one cup of water to put the fire out.
If you want to get people into your Church, you must get God out of it. You have to start to view Church as merely the opening act, simply warming you up for the main event that takes place outside of its walls. What goes on in Church must be about transformation and substantive change that filters out into the world. And God must become that which you only truly encounter in the act of loving those people you meet wherever you are in the world. You must let God out of the building. In fact, you must positively insist that God leaves the building, and enters into the world.
For that to take place, God will need a body…a body called, gathered, and enlightened in the faith that the world is good and people are worth living with, loving on, and even dying for. God will need eyes, and ears, hands, and feet, a head, and a heart. God will need a body. God will need some body.
You can be that somebody.
You want your Church full.
That is a good thing.
Are you prepared to kick God out to see it happen?
It’s up to you.
But you’d better do it soon because,
the Church is on fire.
And make no mistake,
it will burn all the way to the ground
if we don’t kick God out of it.
Shared with author’s permission.
My only personal thoughts in addition to agreeing with Mr. Skillman’s assessment of the state of our churches is that we as Christians are responsible for being the body of Christ in this world and my experience tells me that some Christians are so ashamed of the reputation of Christianity in this country that they no longer admit to identifying as a Christian! If we as the body of Christ in this world are doing such a poor job of emulating Christ’s teachings why in the world would anyone want to join us. It is time to act with justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. Micah 6:8by