Hi, and welcome! If you’re new here, we have a tradition of sorts. Grab a glass of something cold or cup of something hot, find a comfy spot, and read on. Let’s chat!
Today, I’m kind of on a soapbox. Sorry, not intended as a rant, really, just… I don’t get it? I keep running into people who are changing all sorts of things in their lives because they ‘aren’t getting anything out of it’. Forget those nasty words ‘discipline’ or ‘commitment’. We have become such a spoiled bunch! ‘I don’t get anything out of practice, out of this friendship, that business group, this church, that professor, this class’, on and on and on…
The one that drives me the battiest (is that even a word? lol!) is “I don’t get anything out of church”. I’ve heard that the music was bad, the sermons were boring, folks dress up or dress down too much, or my feelings were hurt by so-and-so. Puh-lease! I’ve heard ‘the church is full of hypocrites, so I’m not going anymore’. I’ve heard ‘the kids are grown so I don’t need to go anymore’. Really?
Recently, I’ve spoken to people from several branches of faith who are what I would call ‘church hopping’, because something doesn’t suit them for some reason. It’s typical Western/American thought – I have to be happy with every detail of every part of my life or I’ll do something else; or I’ll do nothing, because that’s better than not being totally happy!
If the music isn’t to your liking, I get it. I was a music major in college. But is musical style or performance really the main reason we’re attending a church? If that’s the case, we need to recheck our spiritual heartbeat. Honestly, should musical style matter for only 3 or 4 songs worth per week? If the lyrics are theologically sound – not in direct contradiction to Scripture – then I should be able to use them to lift my heart to the Lord. If you don’t like the style, buy some music in a style you do like, and play it at home or in your car. Problem solved. 🙂
Not getting anything out of the preaching? In over 40 years, if my heart is in the right place, I’ve never failed to ‘get something’ out of the message at any church I’ve ever attended – from the wildest Charismatic place, to the most ‘boring’ traditional service, to the most formal Latin Mass. If I will pay attention, there’s always that one thought or sentence that will connect with me. Sometimes it’s an encouragement, sometimes a course correction, but always something.
I will agree that there certainly are valid reasons to change churches; but I think sometimes we lose sight of the reason we even go! If you ask people why they attend church, you’ll usually get one of three answers: to ‘worship the Lord’, because it’s the ‘right thing to do’, or because someone else ‘makes me go’. No matter your reason, I want to encourage you to open your heart and allow the Lord to be present with you in church. Make a conscious effort to connect with Him through the Scripture, through the songs, through something in the message. You might even say a simple prayer beforehand and let Him know you’re going to try it – “Okay, Lord, I’m listening today.”
May I dare suggest that if you’re truly going ‘to worship the Lord’, that the focus is not about you? It shouldn’t be about you! True worship is about Him – the Lord of all, the Creator of all things, the Redeemer of all mankind. True worship is about giving, not getting. I’ll say that again: True worship is about giving, not getting. It’s about giving Him the honor, thanks and praise that is His due; it’s not about getting some feel-good emotional experience for me.
I’ll jump over here to every other area in our life – every other person and activity on the planet is not for our personal pleasure. We need to know how to give, how to support others, how to just ‘be’ without being entertained every minute of the day. Whatever happened to old-fashioned discipline? What would happen in that relationship (or marriage!) if you put more into it? What would happen in that class if you did more than the bare bones minimum? What would happen if you really got involved in that group instead of just sitting there watching everyone else? What would happen if you really worked at practice? Commitment involves more than simply showing up for things!
So, my challenge to all of us today is to see what we can give, instead of what we can get. Let me know how it changes your life!