Change isn’t all bad, but some is worrying

Published 11:38am Sunday, August 11, 2013

By Dr. James Troglen
Change is inevitable – it really is! Everything changes. Well, maybe not everything.
Men haven’t changed – not really. Man’s clothes, hobbies, even vocations but not man himself.
Teens haven’t changed – their music has, their clothes and slang have, but not them.
The Gospel hasn’t changed. The means in presenting it perhaps but not the Gospel itself. Man is still a sinner, God still moves and Jesus still has paid the price for sin if man will receive him.
Many things have changed. The church has changed – not in its purpose but in form and practice. We have air conditioning, soft pews, worship bulletins to criticize and worship styles to war over.
Change isn’t all bad. Some of it is good, but some of it worries me. It seems we treat church more like a country club than the bride of Christ. In a country club you pay your dues and then have expectations on what is going to be given to you or done for you. The church is different, or should be.
Members of a church don’t pay their dues so they can be waited on, they join a church to be part of a ministering, serving – GIVING – body. But, we have discovered how to build crowds and just maybe forgotten how to build a church.
I once heard of a church in Tennessee that financed, or tried to finance, a new building by hiring Elvis Presley’s private jet to park on the church parking lot and charge admission to go through it. I heard that an old guy at the local Walmart with sunglasses, a scarf and eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich was hauled off screaming it was his jet and he wanted it back. Hmmmmm!
Another church purchased a new house and then had a special attendance day where each attendee was given a coupon and at the end of the service a number was drawn and the winning coupon received the house!
A church in Dallas had their pastor stand on the church roof and swallow a live goldfish. That is if they reached their high attendance goal. Isn’t that called sushi? What’s next folks?
I know! We can offer happy meals, or rather John the Baptist meals, during Wednesday evening church suppers with cheap toys in them. That will draw them in.
We can fire the student minister out of a cannon, over the sanctuary and into a tank filled with ravenous bull sharks. It is Shark Week, you know?
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not against fun, and I certainly feel church has a capacity to make services entertaining as well as deeply spiritual. But how many dog and pony shows do we need?
I enjoy seeing a student minister flying through the air toward a shark tank, screaming like a little girl, as well as the next guy – but is that really church? Is it really what God wants?
I am convinced that many of us, even First Baptist, need to rediscover what church really is – get back to the basics and quit being an inch deep and a mile wide.
At First Baptist we are going to spend the next year as a church – adults and students – studying the book of Acts during Sunday School and worship. Hopefully we will rediscover what we may have lost and rejoice in what we have done right.
Oh, well, enough preaching. It’s my turn to hide the winning star under one of our pews. You see we are going have everyone check under their pew at the end of services to see if they have the star. If so they win!
Hey, we offer only the best. Last week we gave away three cans of Alpo and half a box of Twinkies. Join us – who knows what we might have this week?
Just joking – seriously I was – the only prize we offer is the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but we would like to have you join us.

Dr. James Troglen is pastor of First Baptist Church of Wetumpka.

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