Every now and then I take a photo and it doesn't look like what I saw in my viewfinder. I mean I point, focus, and then click the shutter and I don't get the result I wanted. Most of the time it's because I didn't focus correctly, or didn't adjust my aperture or shutter speed properly, but either way it's not what I had originally desired. That's exactly what happened in the photo above. Though there is a bit of aesthetic value in the image, it just doesn't really hold up against great photography.
At times the church has this problem. They point, focus, and click, but what they thought was going to be a great picture of the church turned out to be something quite different. Or at least that's what I think happens. I wasn't even really planning on talking about this tonight until I came across a church youth website. Honestly, I was looking at some web design company and noticed they had a youth ministry in their portfolio. My first thought was, "how the heck did a youth ministry afford a professional website?" so I had to check it out. These were the first words I read:
"Oneighty is open Thursdays 6:15pm to 9:15pm for High Schoolers, grades 9-12. Featuring billiards, basketball, Xbox and PS2, foosball, food, experiencing God, and discovering who you were created to be."
Maybe you read that and thought, "sweet, sounds cool." If you did, that's probably what the leaders were going for on this one. But that's not what I thought. My mind triggers on how things are worded and where things are placed. Words mean something to me. Sentence structure also means something. We don't just use our language to communicate information, we can, and do use it to communicate a message. The message I got from those two sentences was this:
“Come on in! We’ve got everything you can do at home and more!…. and if we get around to it, we just might try to explain what ‘experiencing God’ means.”
Call me harsh, but let’s be honest — putting “Xbox” and “experiencing God” in the same sentence doesn’t really make much sense. If given the option, I’m sure just about every average high school student (male or female) is going to choose “food” or “billiards” over “experiencing God.”
The church doesn’t need to be another place to plug in, play pool, or eat junk food, it needs to be the church. It needs to be the church as defined in Scripture. We don’t need youth who are committed to Halo, we need youth who are committed to Christ. It just gets under my skin. I don’t understand where we thought this was a good idea. I only include myself because I am a part of the global Church. These people may be genuine followers of Christ, but I think they need to rethink their platform for ministry.
The reality is, I love the church. But I don’t understand why we need to dress her (the church) up like the local burger joint to talk about Christ. I’m not trying to judge the hearts or intentions of the people of the unnamed church I am talking about, but I think it’s simply dangerous. May I quote from Derek Webb’s song “Nobody Loves Me”:
the truth is never sexy
so it’s not an easy sell
you can dress her like the culture
but she’ll shock ‘em just as well
because she don’t need an apology for being who she is
and she don’t need your help making enemies
so i don’t care if…
nobody loves me, nobody loves me
nobody loves me but you