Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lessons from The Learning Channel

Okay, today I may really offend someone. I know everyone has a hobby that other people just don’t understand. I like to run, fish, hunt and golf. Some people will think why in the heck would you want to run, other than to the fridge and back. Why would you want to try to hook a fish or kill an animal or chase a little white ball all over the place?

Why? I don’t know. For some reason I find happiness and relaxation in those things.
I’ve known pigeon racers, yes pigeon racers, stamp collectors, garage salers, campers, motorcyclists, triathloners, shoppers, civil war reenactors, hikers, gardeners, bakers and wine makers. Somewhere along the way you read that list and said, “Why”.

And last night while watching TV with my awesome wife I said, “Why?”

Okay, here comes the offensive part. I’m going to give you one line and give you a chance to close out this blog, ready…

“Toddlers and Tiaras” on TLC.

This is the show about toddler beauty pageant kids and the behind the scenes with their parents. Last night the kids they followed were age 10 and under.

I must have said “why” no less than 25 times.

I said “why” when they busted out their own spray tan booth in their kitchen.

I said “why” when they took the hair piece in to have it dyed to match the little girl’s hair and then got ticked at the dude in the salon because it wasn’t a perfect match. No prob though, he a blew it out and touched up to perfection by the next morning.

I said “why” when they reviewed the hand signals for “too much smile” “not enough smile” “too much teeth”.

I said “why” when they had to refit the FLIPPER! Someone please tell me that you don’t know what a flipper is unless you have watched this show. A flipper is like a set of dentures but it goes over your existing teeth to cover up the gaps and irregular ones that kids at this age have so they will appear to have perfect teeth. Just so happened that mom worked at a dental office part time and had the stuff at home to do a dental impression right then and there. “If I’m lying I’m dying”, to quote the late great Jerry Clower.

Then one of the moms made some comment like, “its all about you baby” and I thought to myself, “Well not really.” It’s really about who we can make you up to be and who you can pose to be for a little while. Then when that pageant is over that girl is back to normal as fast as she can hit the parking lot.

Hey, that’s cool if that’s your hobby, I don’t understand it, or pigeon racing for that matter.

But the more I thought about the pageant and my comment the more I thought “Wow, isn’t this how we do church?”

Don’t a lot of times we make ourselves out to be someone we are not for a couple hours every Sunday. Then as soon as it’s over we are back to normal as soon as we hit the parking lot.

How much different would church be if we showed up as who we really are every week?
As lonely, depressed, sad, struggling, addicted, frustrated, imperfect, misunderstood, hungry, cold, lost.

What if we were to lay that at His feet every week?

What would this say to the rest of the world about our church?? It would say we are just like you!

As long as we continue to treat church like a pageant we will continue to tell the world we are trying to reach that you must look and act a certain way to come in here.

What a travesty!

I think this scene from Mark 2:15-18 (The Message translation) addresses this beautifully.

15-16Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: "What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?"

17Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I'm here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit."

It’s no wonder the lost won’t come to our churches.

It’s no wonder the lost despise us.

If you think this is not the case you either aren’t talking or reaching out to hurting people in the world or you are really fooling yourself.

If you keep up with my blog often then you know our church does an outreach called Hot Dogs From Heaven where we feed people in a local park once a month and try to build relationships with them.

During one of our recent events my friend Mike and I got a chance to minister to a local lady who was struggling with life. She said she really wanted to go to church but she couldn’t, as she gestured to us with the cigarette she had in her hand.

Said she had to “quit” first.

Before I could speak, Mike was in the middle of telling her that you don’t have to be perfect and cleaned up to get into church. Church is a place where you can come as you are, you don't have to clean up your life so you can get in. And that there was no one in any church that was perfect.

She had this funny look on her face and said, “I didn’t think church people wanted me in there with them smelling like smoke.”

In case you missed it let me repeat part of what she said again, “I didn’t think church people wanted me in there with them…”

“Church people” do you see the message we are giving off? And I’ll be the first to admit I’m as guilty of this as anyone else.

We must start to see our churches not as a social event or item on the weekly to do list. We must see our churches as place to glorify God for the abundant grace we are immersed in everyday in our jacked up lives. We must see them as a hospital for the broken to check-in to so they can be met by open-armed Christ followers and given a chance to meet Him too!

There is a line from the Todd Agnew song My Jesus that I will leave you with today. The entire song rocks but these words always hit me the hardest.

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet