Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Repent of...what?

Is the worship at your church stale? Is the preaching bland? Is the music dated, or even worse, boring? Well, if you want to hear powerful messages with maximum spiritual impact, be stirred by spiritual songs, and find joy in worship once again… try repenting of your sin and believing in Jesus. Seriously.  from Joe Thorn's blog

Let's be real.  If the service you attend on Sunday does not seem like the place God is moving, that might be because it isn't.  Just because a well known pastor from across the country (or a local pastor who thinks this is worthy of putting on facebook for his congregation to see) thinks its your fault and it is sinful for you to feel that organized Christianity is stale, bland, dated and boring, doesn't make him right.  There are plenty of people who believe in Jesus and have had enough of the rituals and liturgies.  Some of these brothers and sisters have left all that behind and found a closer, deeper and more intimate relationship with Christ because of it.

When I read this the first thought that came to my mind was "more guilt from the self proclaimed heads of the church."  Now, I don't know for sure if that was the intent, it's not my place to say what spirit this post was sent in.  Since it is vague enough for anyone to judge either way, I won't go there.  It IS my place to examine the kinds of issues that grow from the guilt shifting intentions of a post such as this one.  That brand of guilt is merely a diversionary tactic to take our eyes off the failures of the institution and make people feel like they are not spiritual enough to get the desired response from the service.  The best laid plans of the clergy cannot fail so it must be the laity's fault.

I'm calling BS on that.

...but that's not all...

There is a truth to the fact that when we are not abiding in Christ we cannot see Him and enjoy Him in all things.  Yes, even worship services.  I mean, some people really dig worship services and they seem to enjoy God much through ritual and tradition.  Hey, more power to ya.  If that is what God is calling you into then you should do that thing to His glory with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  But just because others have been given a desire for God's purpose in Christ outside of the four walls of the building does not mean they are wrong.

I'll be honest, when I attend a worship service I end up leaving with both sets of feelings.  In some ways I have seen Christ and in others I'm left wondering "why did I waste precious time being subjected to that?"  Does that mean I should repent?  Maybe, but for what?  Not enjoying the service or for being a bad steward of the limited time I have?  I guess that all depends on the conviction of the Holy Spirit now doesn't it?  Here's the thing:  all too often, church leaders take it upon themselves to be the vessels who dole out sinful convictions.  This may or may not have been the case with this particular post.  There may have been someone who needed to hear this.  It's my opinion that they would have had the same conviction had they been admonished to abide in Christ and not live a life of grumbling and complaining but hey, I'm no professional.  Nevertheless, we would be wise to be more careful about who we accuse of sin.  We may find ourselves calling what God has ordained and put in the heart of a believer a sinful response to the service.

We wouldn't want to do that now... would we?

Truth be told, if the whole body of Christ were abiding in Him and functioning according to the grace given to each member;  stale, bland, dated and boring wouldn't be anywhere on the radar as a description of the gathering.  The response from repentant believer and unrepentant non-believer alike would be something like this:

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
(1 Corinthians 14:24-25 ESV)


  1. Statements like Thorn's are designed to prevent people from asking questions. If you don't love sitting through sermons it is because you hate the church, etc. It is shameful that some people will try to manipulate and guilt other people into supporting the institutions.

  2. Your point is an important one that needs to be made. Good call, Bobby.

  3. Bobby,

    This post is right up my alley. Exposing the BS within the system.

    Thanks for a well needed post.


  4. Bobby,

    How sad this is. Thanks for pointing it out. It's just another example of the unquestioned defense of the institution by salaried clergy. Thank the Lord that the church and the institution are two completely different things.

  5. I couldn't resist the urge to comment on Joe Thorn's blog post. I simply wrote, "This sounds like yet another defense of the institution by the clergy to make the laity feel guilty of questioning the status quo. Very sad." I doubt it will do any good, but he needs to know that not all Christians applaud that sort of unbiblical nonsense.

  6. Update - I'll give Joe Thorn credit. He took the time to respond to my comment.

    1. and then he closed the comments to the post.

    2. I was just at his site too. Thanks for pointing that out, Bobby. It's too bad he closed the comments; I would have liked to add my two cents worth. What that really says to me is that he doesn't want anyone questioning his "pseudo-authority" on the subject. I have a serious problem with that. If he doesn't want a comment, then don't put it out there in the first place. Otherwise he paints himself as little more than a dictator. Just saying. Peace.

  7. Bobby

    This is all too common, and sadly it often includes topics much more personal than simply preferences in church service style. It is a lazy man's approach to dealing with an issue. If you don't have a good answer, or any desire to change or at least consider the perspective of the person who has brought the issue before you, then simply label their actions/questions/comments as rooted in sin. This works for dealing with people questioning your preaching and church liturgy as well as counseling people through marital problems, depression, struggles with their children and so on. It is the go-to answer of those leaders (and defenders of leaders) not willing to seriously deal with others and their issues.

    Thanks for sharing this! I have heard much of this same reasoning in response to my writing as of late.


    1. many will point the accusatory finger before they will join you in asking the tough questions if it has the potential to disturb their comfort level.

    2. Great Post - The last church my family and I attended (about 2 years ago) had some serious problems, which I lovingly pointed out to the pastor before leaving. He got defensive and then pulled out the big gun by saying this: "People in the church are bored with my preaching and the dry, stale song services because they are just spiritually dead(comparison to the dead sea). He said that if people in the church would just get more involved in ministry, they would find life flowing again. What?!?! Nice thought, but that was impossible to do in that church - the system itself prevented people from ministering to one another since the pastor was the only one qualified to do that. It was nice hear to clain that he had life flowing through himself, but I clearly remember that every sunday - you could see the heads start to nod and approximately 2/3 of the people would be asleep 20 minutes into into his 1.5 hr long sermon. And he had the nerve to blame that on the people in the pews rather than taking a long, hard look at what he was doing that might be causing the problem!

      Nice post.


As in a biblical church gathering, my word is not complete or final. Participation is allowed, encouraged and expected. Please, don't leave without adding something.