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Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Seeker Churches
The past few weeks, I've been visiting a variety of churches in and around the middle Tennessee area in search of a new church home. It's not been an easy process becuase it involves me getting out of my "comfort" zone, something that I'm not as good at doing as I should be. But it's a necessary step and one that I really feel as if God is leading me in.

I'll admit I've used the Internet to help facilitate my search. I've looked at web sites to find out things such as when do services begin, directions to the church, what types of ministries are offered and what kind of service will I be attending--traditional, contemporary, somewhere in between. One thing I like to find out is how formal or informal a service is before I go. I visited a really nice church a few weeks ago, but I was totally overdressed, based on the rest of the congregation gathered there. I don't want to be a snob, but I just feel comfortable coming to church in a nice shirt, khaki pants and a tie. Part of the reason I dress that way, especially in visiting a church, is that I already feel a bit nervous about going and maybe not knowing anyone. Dressing like that helps me to feel a bit more comfortable and hopefully able to not worry about what I'm wearing and to go about the task that I'm really there for--to worship.

But the church I visited was a smaller one and the congregation was dressed more casually than I. So, I'll admit for a few minutes I felt a bit self-aware. I quickly decided I could either be self conscious throughout the service and totally miss the point of why I was there or I could get over it and worship and not worry about outward appearances. I decided the later, though I will admit when I decided to visit a church this past Sunday, I did contact some friends who attended there and ask their advice on if I should don a tie or not.

The thing is--it shouldn't necessarily be about what you wear, so much as coming to worship with an open heart and the spirit of worship. I mean, looking at the example of Christ in the Bible, Jesus took people as they were. He didn't say, "Well, get a nice shirt, tie and a suit and then we'll talk about it." He interacted with everyone, regardless of their condition or state of dress. I seriously doubt some of the lepers he healed were cutting quite the rug in a tux.

So, today when Brittney over at Nashville is Talking linked to a new Baptist minister's blog with a lengthy post about churches making themselves more accessible and his response to that, I felt myself getting a bit irritated.
Well I could rant and rave and tell you why I think all of this is wrong but I believe the problem can be summed up in one sentence.

"Seeker friendly churches are confusing culture with sin"

therefore you are not making your church culture friendly you are making it sin friendly. Now I know I know the church is for sinners and I believe that but the sin that we have in the church needs to be preached on and repented of. Not told that it is OK.

I want you to listen to some of the seeker friendly preachers preach. Like Joel Osteen for instance. Joel is a phenomenal speaker and he makes people feel good. But have you ever heard him preach on repentance of sin?
Which my response to that one is--hold on a minute, buddy! I think you're kind of missing the point here. One thing the church desparately tries to do be this days is relevant to people's lives. Again, I go back to Jesus, who met people where they were, at the point in the lives they were and interacted with them. He didn't have a dress code, he didn't have a set of rules and regulations for people to follow to have fellowship and communion with him. He accepted people for their hearts and not for their external condition.

I'd like to think that the blogger in question had good intentions in posting this. Or maybe that I've misconstrued what he's saying. I know I've read it about three times now to make sure I'm not missing something. But I don't think I have.

It seems to me that this judgemental attitude is what may keep people who might want to seek a church from finding one. "Well, I'm not good enough, so I might as well not go until I am," a person might think. News-flash--none of us are worthy of the gift Christ gave us by taking our sins and dying for them on the cross. And nothing we can do in this world will ever earn that for us. But it's a gift freely given. It's grace from our Father in heaven. And Christ made that sacrfice for you, me and everyone in the world. The church is for sinners and while I do think we should hear sermons and preaching on repetance and following Christ's way, that we shouldn't condemn any one who has fallen short. Cause I am here to tell you I've strived hard in my life and I've fallen way short a lot of times. And if anyone tells you they haven't, they're lying.

I like the idea of a seeker church. In my church visits, I've been really impressed with congregations who have warmth and friendliness. I've visited a couple where I felt immediately embraced and welcome by the people there, by the worship experience and by the pastor. I like that. One church I visited even sent me an anonymous survey, asking me to tell them what impressions I had and how they could make the worship experience and welcome better for other visitors.

It's not a sin to come to church just as you are. The Bible says you are to offer best. I think the minister here has misinterpreted that to mean you should wear your best outfit. I take it as more of you offer yourself fully to worship. You tithe or give from your abundance, not what's left over. It's an attitude of putting God first in your life and it's not about how you appear or how you dress. It's about giving your best to God, just as He always gives His best to us.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/31/2006 01:00:00 PM | |
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