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How to Kill a Church – Part 2


A church in Egge, Norway. Credit: Gert Andreas Barring/Flickr/Creative Commons

A church in Egge, Norway. Credit: Gert Andreas Barring/Flickr/Creative Commons

One man in Japan made himself famous for a few days in October. He is probably the most surprised, but a comedian named Piko Taro made a video and millions of people watched it. He is a viral one-hit wonder.

There is one thing he did not do; he did not wreck the conversation. Mr Taro did some excellent teaching, even if we learned nothing. The conversation was phatic, the teacher opened the channel of communication and maintained it. You probably watched right to the end. Everything was presented well, from the lighting and camera focus, to his costume and smile, and his dance and song, and his enunciation, and more. Also, I am sure someone did some preparation.

The only thing missing is a message. I am sure Mr Taro could have added an important message to his presentation, and the world would have listened. He could have convinced us of something, or asked for money. The video is now filled with other people’s promotions and additions. They will be selfish if he isn’t.

So how did he feel when he made the video? He was probably happy, but we don’t know what was behind the expression on his face. The whole point of the exercise was us.

A skilled professional made a presentation, and gave it away; in the language of the Bible, he fed the sheep. OK, it was a low calorie diet, but he showed us how to do it. Apparently the whole thing cost about one thousand dollars, and he just gave it away.

And how can we wreck a church? Make it about us.

In high school, I was forming ideas about my adult life, and I remember wondering how my friends could become Christians like the people in my church, and join us as new members. One idea was clear, ‘they are never going to sing those hymns.’ We needed new members who could learn our ways and contribute to our cause, and sing our songs. We needed.

Even I don’t go to that church now, and I know my thinking was deadly. I was a teenage church killer.

Now I believe that people need God, and that the Holy Spirit of God wants to change people. God wants to feed the sheep. The point of the exercise is us coming alive and growing.

My experience is teaching, and the deadliest teaching method is to make it about me. I was a supervisor of instructors in a university once, and I observed a class where the instructor spent most of the lesson time making small talk about himself, and then collected the homework and dismissed the students.

We fired him and he was angry. He was so addicted to his self-focused self-feeding that he couldn’t see the students. It was all about him; and he was a church-going Christian.

I also volunteered at a rescue mission in a poor part of the city, and we had teams from churches who took turns leading the worship services. We learned that too many Christians love a captive audience, and they would force those poor people to endure their egos, until we stopped them and served baloney sandwiches, and tea with no milk or sugar.

Before you roll your eyes, the audience loved it and we easily packed the place out; when we did it right. In fifteen minutes it is possible to smile, play a guitar and sing, give a Bible lesson, and pray.

Those rough and dirty people in the slums were spiritual and they enjoyed spiritual food, and they liked their sandwiches and tea. They thanked us sincerely and shook our hands on the way out, and they came back the next night. It’s an interesting sub culture.

It is so easy to kill a church with our needs and our egos, and it is so easy to feed the sheep; the choice is simple and clear.

We need to see this dark side in us. The Bible says “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). With a world population of seven and a half billion, and new generations emerging, the opportunities to put God’s life in churches are more than we can count. If we aren’t packing them in, it’s possible that hungry people don’t enjoy watching us as we feed ourselves.

These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. (Luke 10:2)

More in this series:

 

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