2018-03-07 / Faith

A rant on the church

Lessons from the Heart
By Pastor Ed Selvidge

Selvidge Selvidge With the recent school shooting, it is becoming very clear, we are in trouble. Changing the laws may help, but I know in my heart it will not solve the world’s problems. The only solution to our world’s problems is a change of heart. And, so, the question always follows- where is the Church? Good question. Are we a part of the problem or a part of the solution? What are we doing in the Church these days? Let me rant!

Allow me to be clear here. I feel compelled, in this limited space, to air my angst with the church, as we know it today. Now, I am not talking about the true, authentic church as talked about in the Bible. That church, the one you see forming and going forth in the book of Acts, is also pictured as “The body of Christ” with Christ as the head. No, I am talking about the local churches that are changing at a rapid pace.

My “rant” has to do with what we are doing; what we the Church are doing at the local level. You see, many people who will not darken a church door have a valid point about the church. You have heard it said, “I am not going to church because it is full of hypocrites!” Or, you may have heard someone criticize the church because they are always trying to pry money from your hands, right? And those people have a valid point. We the modern church have messed up this gift we have been given by Christ himself, called the Church. How has the local church failed you might ask? I am realizing more and more, we churches have bought into a lie about what we are and what we are here to do. It might help to use some illustrations.

The first illustration has to do with what people say they “want in a church” and what we as leaders have attempted to do, to accommodate those wishes. Many churches have developed into a Dinner Theater Style Church. Dinner theaters serve food but have entertainment as well. The thought is, we can attract more people by entertaining the patrons while they eat, thereby, getting more patrons. The problem with this model is that entertainment has to get bigger, better, and more spectacular each week in order to get back the crowd. The church becomes a big show and the participants become accomplished actors.

The second illustration is many churches have fallen into the trap of thinking they are a Restaurant rather than a Grocery Store. By that I mean to say, we believe, as in a restaurant, we have to prepare the food for the patrons, wait on them and serve the food to them. Whereas, a grocery store has the food there for you, but you have to take it home and prepare it yourself. The entire staff becomes weary in trying to find the “right menu,” aiming to please the patrons.

When we look at the original church in the book of Acts in the New Testament, they were neither a Dinner Theater nor A Restaurant; they were neither Actors nor Professional Chiefs; they were people of Action! They were simply people telling the truth and letting those who heard it decide if following Jesus was for them. They had the courage, against all odds, to spread the truth about Jesus. Acts 4:13 reads, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” We find people who wanted to be close to Jesus. We find people who wanted to do what Jesus wanted them to do. We find people of action rather than people who wanted to be waited on.

What is the answer? I see the mission of the local church as being one of action! Spreading the truth! I believe we, as local churches, need to become once again Hospitals and Clinics. We need to be the place where people can find help, healing and restoration! You see we all have a heart problem. It is not elective surgery. It is necessary surgery; we need heart surgery! The Bible tells us the only solution to our problem is a new heart! We must then become those hospitals and clinics that help Jesus change our hearts of stone to hearts that want to be with Him.

Do you want Jesus to be your Lord and Savior? He is waiting for you to turn to him and follow. He will change your heart. He will heal your wounds. He will give you a new life in him, if you simply turn to him and ask!

Actors, no! People of Action, yes! That is what our church must become in order to be the Church of Jesus Christ for a world in trouble.

Ed Selvidge is the pastor of the Radnor United Methodist Church.

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