Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why is Church a Burden?

Here is the great question that is at the heart of so many problems we have in Missouri. Why is Church a burden? Why is it sometimes so hard to just get up in the morning and go to Church? Why do we have so many delinquents who would rather just sleep in?

There are many "solutions" to this problem. Let's make Church more relevant - let's make it more entertaining. A new worship style, a new band, 40 days of better oo-laa-laa at home if you listen to the sermon, a new way to pray to get you more stuff.

Do you know what these all remind me of? I have in my head the picture of a board of directors of a bank sitting around in a large purple room, and one says, "We aren't getting as many customers as we ought. What can we do?" On person suggests, "The free toaster we give away isn't working - let's try a better toaster!" Another person says, "For get the toaster, how about we give away a portable radio!" And then the group starts muttering, "Radio - good idea - progressive thinking - harumph, harumph."

All the solutions listened above (in both examples) get things backwards. Instead of examining why people don't come - let's just give them something new so that they will come. In business, this is folly. In religion, this leads to false doctrine and damnation.

Yes, yes, I know that some people will say, "but we asked people, and they said they didn't like ________ so we changed it!" That's not the point here. Rather this - why do people not come, why is church a burden? Not because it is boring, not because it's not their cup of tea. Simply this.

We forget what goes on at Church. We think of it in earthly terms - not in terms of the forgiveness of sins. Or if we do - we become smug, self-righteous, don't worry about skipping because we were okay for this week.

Why is Church a burden - because our sinful nature despises the law and ignores its application to itself, because our sinful nature rebells against the Gospel and does not want to believe.

Thus - what is the solution, the true and proper solution? The proper application of Law and Gospel accompanied with instruction on what benefits the our Lord gives us in His Service.

And the thing is - this may or may not make a visible difference. Holy Spirit works when and where He wills via the Word. May spend decades preaching to deaf ears. Oh well - nothing other than preaching will do - no new program, no new this or that. And when we forget this, when we try to find solutions of our own devising - well, that's when trouble boils over.


Christopher D. Hall said...

Actually in business it is not folly, for a consumer needs things to consume, and when they aren't consuming your offerings, it is time to give them more. This works. Is it good for society? For a service industry, such as banking, providing new services is probably wiser than giving a promotion, but regardless, it works.

But I'm not sure I still agree with the rest of what you wrote. You're still emphasizing a consumerist position, just that your product is so good nothing more is necessary.

What about our duty to worship? What about our obligation as creatures? Yes, this is Law, but there is nothing wrong with the law, is there?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

A toaster works as a bandaid, not a full solution to business problems - that's my point. If a bank is failing, the solution isn't having better gimmicks, it's be a better bank.

My question is this. Why is there a duty to worship - is this duty given for God's benefit or for God's benefit? If you mother says, "You need to eat your vegetables" is this so you don't hurt her feelings or because the vegetables are good for you?

Even when God gives law, it isn't capricious, it is for our benefit. When God instructs us to worship, this is for our benefit. We ought know what benefits worship brings - otherwise we might end up seeking other benefits from worship.