This last weekend I was talking with folks concerning some of the issues I’ve raised in my posts on the Church and work when someone mentioned an issue that had come up in his former church, a good-sized, Midwest congregation.
It seems two families got hit particularly hard by downsizing, putting their incomes in such dire straits that they were threatened with the loss of their homes. When they approached the church for help, they were told nothing could be done. The kicker was the church was in the process of buying an $80,000 sound system. The kicker for those families was that they eventually did lose their homes.
Yet, nothing could be done.
Let me say this: When you love a 64-track digital mixing board more than your brothers and sisters in Christ, you are not the Church. When folks in the congregation spend more time debating whether or not they’ll sign up for the ten channel package of satellite HDTV rather than the twenty channels of programming when all the while your sister in Christ is going to lose her home, you are not the Church.
I am absolutely sick of hearing these kinds of stories. There is never any reason for them to exist. I don’t want to hear about our concern for the lost if we have no concern for them once they are no longer lost. The Church does not stop being the Church once a person gets baptized. We talk and talk and talk about community and love and all sorts of warm fuzzy concepts, but if I see my brother in need and do not do what I can to help, then I am no longer the Church, but a rugged individualist who believes that God helps those who help themselves and can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. If you can point to the chapter and verse that supports that kind of thinking, then I’ll recant, but you simply won’t because it is not the Gospel.
How many of you are sick and tired of playing “church”? Frankly, I’ve had it. Meanwhile, the thief who comes to steal and destroy robs one family after another, families who thought they were surrounded by love, but were in fact only surrounded by theories and nice ideas.
This is only going to get worse, folks. If you are like me, I would challenge the leadership of your church on these kinds of issues. And while we can think globally and worry about someone on the other side of the planet, if we can’t deliver on helping the people we meet together with every Sunday, how can we ever hope to make a difference to the world? We can’t let the Church become some glib, but pale, imitation of itself or else we have become the Anti-Church.
God forgive us for letting it get this far!