I mentioned in my last post that I had a great conversation on Tuesday morning with a couple of guys. We were discussing a chapter in Os Guinnness' book The Call. At the end of the chapter, he makes the observation that "the modern world has scrambeled things so badly that today we worship our work, we work at our play, and we play at our worship" (pg. 152). Saying it like that is certainly provocative, but also very true.
While we could focus on any one of those three couplets, the last one is what gripped me as particularly true of us, and sad. When you go to church on Sunday and leave, how do you evaluate the service. What makes it a good Sunday for you? Is it music you enjoy? A great drama that you thought was funny? A heart touching illustration? If so, what makes church different from a good movie or sit com?
In a recent article that appeared in Business Week, a pastor of a large megachurch is quoted as saying, “[I did] market research with non-churchgoers in the area – and got an earful. 'They said churches were full of hypocrites and were boring,’ he recalls. So he designed [his church] to counter those preconceptions, with lively, multimedia-filled services in a setting that’s something between a rock concert and a coffee shop” (87).
Quotes like that just emphasize how we play at our worship. Let me quote from Sam Storms, "Forgive me for being so cynical, but I don’t think “multimedia-filled services” in any setting are going to help much with the hypocrisy in today’s churches. And if I know human nature at all, people will soon enough find elaborate services with high tech productions as tiresome and predictable as the traditional approach. Nor do I think such flash and sound will do much to sustain the human soul when tragedy or trial or bankruptcy or cancer or teenage rebellion strikes home." (check out his article "The Mega Church and the Mini Gospel).
I like to play. I like playing golf, playing star wars with Caleb. I like fun. Really, I do! But I do not like playing at church. I do not like playing at worship. It's not that I am against fun, but fun must not be the goal! Not at church and certainly not in worship. The goal is God! The result of experiencing God in worship will be joy, not necessarily fun, but deep seated, unshakable joy. That's better than fun any day, and twice as good on Sundays.
I fear that in our pursuit of fun, we have lost the reverence and even the pursuit of God. If Sundays are boring, maybe it's because we aren't focused on God. Who would dare charge the King of the Universe with being boring. This is the God who spun the universe into existence, who sculpted us from dirt, who holds all things in together by his will, who died and rose again to save rebels, who is coming again to wage war against his final enemies. But your right. He's boring (Please note the sarcasm. I don't think it comes across as well in writing as it does in my head).
Lets give up the pursuit of fun and begin a far greater pursuit, the pursuit of God. Being consumed with this pursuit will bring more joy than the pursuit of fun ever will.