What a terrible place to be, Lord: Anyplace You are not present.
I saw a documentary today by that name: “When God Left the Building.” It was about a church building. Not just one, but many. Right here in our nation.
The landscape of “organized” church is changing. This film referenced the rise of a few “megachurches” and the disappearance of many small congregations.
Of course, big is not always better. Loneliness can actually be magnified in a crowd. And small can be vibrant and healthy. But in this film — and the latest research — lifeless seems to be the rule… not the exception.
I couldn’t watch it all in one setting, Lord. I was grieving too much. The weight of hopelessness conveyed by so many on camera was too much to bear.
Disputes with new pastors changing what members had been “used to” for decades. Intrigues and back-room maneuverings. Political coups to oust pastors who wouldn’t tow the line. Memberships decimated by leaks and floods of people jumping off sinking ships.
Survival of the Fittest. In church???
I got to wondering, Lord. Had You really left those buildings? Or had the people within those buildings left You?
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)
My question was answered almost before I asked it. More interviews with churchgoers. I choose that word intentionally. There’s a big difference between “going” to church and being the church… isn’t there, Lord?
One of the “faithful” wasn’t even sure about You anymore, Lord… whether You even exist. Another spurned Your Word as “just a book” full of outdated stories written by outdated people in outdated times. Another is an avowed atheist… singing every Sunday in the church choir.
“I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen!” (Revelation 2:4-5)
This isn’t how You envisioned church… is it, Lord? It started in temple courts and also In people’s homes. No seeker-style services in performance-friendly venues. No once-a-week gathering of anonymous spectators.
Just daily, vibrant, up-close-and-personal encounters. With each other.. and with You, Lord! Doing Life together, bathed in Love. So they could lovingly and practically impact those far from You.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
What’s not to love?!
Do some things need to die, Lord… to make room for New Life? Even — especially — in Your Church?
Praying Your Promises…
Expecting Your Best…