Every now and then you hear something that just makes you smile. And that makes you remember that most people really do want to be challenged to do the things that are important. I read an article recently that I want to share in this space with you:
Julie and Bob Clark were stunned to receive a letter from their church in July asking them to “participate in the life of the church” — or worship elsewhere. “They basically called us freeloaders,” says Julie. “We were freeloaders,” says Bob. In a trend that may signal rough times for wallflower Christians, mega-church Faith Community has asked “non-participating members” to stop attending. “No more Mr. Nice Church,” says the executive pastor, newly hired from AT&T Wireless. “Bigger is not always better. Providing free services indefinitely to complacent Christians is not our mission.” “Freeloading” Christians were straining the church’s nursery and facility resources and harming the church’s ability to reach the lost, says the pastor. Faith Community sent polite but firm letters to families who attend church services and “freebie events” but never volunteer, never tithe and do not belong to a small group or other ministry. The church estimates that of its 8,000 regular attendees, only half have volunteered in the past 3 years, and a third have never given to the church. “Before now, we made people feel comfortable and welcome, and tried to coax them to give a little something in return,” says a staff member. “That’s changed. We’re done being the community nanny.”
Surprisingly, the move to dis-invite people has drawn positive response from men in the community who like the idea of an in-your-face church. “I thought, ‘A church that doesn’t allow (pretenders) — that rocks,’” says Bob Clark, who admires the church more since they told him to get lost. He and Julie are now tithing and volunteering. “We’ve taken our place in church life,” he says.
Two things about that article. First, it’s not true. Joel Kilpatrick wrote it in 2006 as a satirical poke at flabby church-goers. Second, it should be true. Because spiritually flabby church-attenders cannot possibly be the ones to whom Jesus was referring when He said, “true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.”
I can hear some of you arguing with me now. You are saying, “Oh, get over it. I can worship God anywhere I want. I can worship Him on the golf course. Or at home with the Sunday paper. Or, I can go to any church I want, sit in the back and hear the ‘show’ and slip out before the preacher says amen. Nothing wrong with that. Don’t judge me!”
What it comes down to for all of us is the answer to this question with regard to who and where and how we worship: Who is in charge? If the answer you come up with is yourself, then go for it! Tell God how you will worship Him and ignore everything He has clearly said about that. Go ahead and apply that same thinking to every other part of your life. Tell your boss you will show up for work when it is convenient, and ignore any and all instructions he may give you otherwise. Tell the IRS how much you intend to pay for taxes, and ignore any and all ‘encouragement’ they give to the contrary.
One last thing. Please let me know how it turns out. This is part of an ongoing investigation.