I originally posted this about a year and a half ago but recently came across it and wanted to throw it out again…
I rely on an Internet Service Provider (ISP), that shall remain unnamed, to deliver high speed internet to my house. It should be a simple relationship, really… I send them money, they send me the internet and everyone’s happy.
Lately, though, it’s been somewhat more difficult and our relationship has become…strained. A few months ago, they raised my bill – and raised it again – before we worked out a deal to lower it back where it should have been all along. Two months later, we’re still arguing about why my bill hasn’t gone down. On top of that, over the past couple weeks, sometimes I can access the internet and sometimes my computer gives me the infamous “Safari can’t find the server” message. So what should be a simple, fulfilling relationship has become something less… I send them more money than I agreed to, they send me the internet sometimes and bitterness is growing.
The obvious solution is to call my ISP to work out the problem but that’s not exactly a simple task either. Phone calls to the ISP eventually get through but not before I’ve gone through 10-15 layers of automated service and waited on hold for 20-25 minutes. Communication has obviously broken down somewhere along the line.
Through my frustration with the internet situation, I’ve been considering the role of the church and I wonder if we’ve lost sight of our obligation to the culture we live among. Just as I rely on the ISP for the internet I so desperately want, a culture dying without a Savior is relying on the Church for the Gospel it so desperately needs. But how accessible have we made it? Really?
It should be a simple relationship… People give the Church their time, the Church gives them the Messiah and everyone begins to mature together.
But what happens if every corporate gathering in the church isn’t centered around the message of the cross? Sure, it’s always mentioned, but it’s not always the focal point. Or what happens when we choose to “wing it” instead of thoughtfully preparing and rehearsing for our gatherings? What happens when the unrehearsed music is so bad people tune out before they get 10 minutes in? What happens when we haven’t planned to greet and welcome people warmly? What happens when we approach our gathering like it’s just another Sunday. After all, we did it last week and we’re pretty sure we’ll do it again next week, right? It’s not like this is the last time we’ll ever have church…
When we don’t pour our energy and effort into delivering Jesus in a simple, understandable kind of way every time we meet, it’s like we’re telling people, “We’re glad you came today but we didn’t really care enough to give you what we know you need. Maybe next time…”
Jesus must be the center of every single thing we do. Because we aren’t guaranteed a second opportunity to grab people’s valuable time.
Simply put, it should be easier to get Jesus than it is to get the internet. It should be easier for people coming to your church to connect their hearts to God than it is to connect their houses to the world wide web. But is it?
Is your church delivering – consistently – or are people leaving with a growing bitterness toward you and Jesus?
And more importantly, if they’re leaving, are you as frustrated with it as you would be if you had bad internet service?