After the last episode in this series – which has come along painfully slow – I’ve been unable to shake one fleeting thought. We discovered in the last post that the average Sunday affords us the chance to reach 18 million people in the United States alone…meaning that each Sunday morning we hold the potential to radically influence society through empowering people to live as they were created to live. Each Sunday morning we have the opportunity to repair broken relationships, influence great compassion towards the underprivileged and the lacking, and to empower individuals and families to live in a new way which redefines the world. The thing that I can’t shake is this:
Is there any room in our churches and structures (worship, Bible classes, small groups) for this to actually happen?
The great failure of the American church isn’t the persistence of the traditionalists and fundamentalists. There will always be those who are resistant to change, even when change is inevitable. The great failure of the American church is the failure to capture the imaginations of the campers – those who attend on Sunday mornings, or Easter services, but are generally un-involved and un-influenced by the message our churches offer.
So if you’re reading this blog and you are a camper (someone who attends church, but church has no real influence toward substantial change and meaning in your life)…as a church leader, I want to apologize to you. I’m sorry that we’ve bored you with the gospel of Jesus, and have guilted you into attending every worship service. I’m sorry that we’ve hidden the full character of God, and have taught a watered down religious message. I’m sorry that we’ve offered you no real hope, no real change, and no real grace. I’m sorry that we’ve judged you, and decided that you think other things are more important that church. I’m sorry that we’ve given you a mask, instead of walked authentically with you. I’m sorry that we’ve never really given you a chance or a reason to try this whole relationship with Jesus thing. I’m sorry that we’ve never risked our pride or our reputation to captivate you with the goodness of God.
I’m sorry that we’ve carried the name of Jesus so poorly in your midst.
I yearn for you to know El Shaddai…the God who is sufficient.
I so desperately want you to know Emmanuel…the God who is with us.
I want you to know Jehovah-Nissi….the God who carries His banner before us.
And I implore you…please ignore the dogmatic fundamentalists and traditionalists who tell you that the way to God is through pious obedience and checklist Christianity. Their God is often their own righteousness, which you’ll never live up to. No…our God is gracious, compassionate, and runs toward the sinner. Our God overwhelms with goodness and mercy. Our God romances, adorns, and gifts us. Our God isn’t scared of your past, intimidated by your doubts, or turned off by your missteps. Our God loves you.
And I say our God…because He’s your God as much as He is mine.
Part Three coming soon….hopefully you’ll stay tuned.