ringling brothers circus discount codeA couple of weeks ago my mom told me about an article in The Christian Index titled “The day the circus came to church” (click here if you want to read it). I have read it a few times and wanted to make a few comments about the attitude some have toward the “modern” church.

The author wrote,

“In many ways, some modern churches have come to resemble a circus. Billboards, postcards, and newspaper advertisements promise fun for all who attend. No more boring sermons, unpopular music, or doctrines that divide. Instead, expect short talks, worldly music, and a laidback setting. Attendees can wear short pants and flip flops while drinking their favorite beverage and watching video clips from some late night television shows. All this comes with a guarantee to provide more fun than any church in town.”

I have heard this stuff more than once since starting a “modern” church. As far as I’m concerned most of this is based on misinformation and religious bias. While I would not be surprised that a small handful of modern churches cross the line, it is simply wrong and irresponsible to lump all modern churches into the same bucket without doing some real investigation. As John Stossel often says on 20/20, “Give me a break.”

Personally, I believe a worship service should be fun and exciting. God is not boring! The Bible is filled with exciting stories of real life people struggling with real life issues. When you get down to the bottom of it, God is more interested in our relationship with him and our heart condition more than anything else. God is not that interested in our outward appearance or religious duty; he warned those who focused on outward displays of religious expression rather than on real religion (see Matthew 6-7, Matthew 23, & Isaiah 1:10-18 for starters; there are many more examples).

Worship style is really nothing more than a personal preference. There is no one right style. Period. Rock band, gospel, southern gospel, no instruments, big band, country western. Visit a worship service from another country and it reflects their cultural bias (just like we do here). The bottom line is this: God loves the sincere heartfelt praises of his people more than anything.

Life is messy, and our culture is filled with messed-up people. I talked about sex in a traditional church several years ago. I got a complaint that church was no place to talk about sex. Perhaps people should read the Bible! God said a lot about it in the Bible (1 Corinthians 7:1-7; Song of Solomon 4:9-15; & Proverbs 5:15-20 just to name a few do’s on sex).  No church should do something that outright violates a biblical command (by that I mean God clearly says so in the Bible rather than something based on our opinion or stretched interpretation) in the service to connect with people. The church must address the problems of messed up people. Our goal is to point people to God and give them his solutions. If all we do is tell people what not to do, beat them up, make them feel “bad,” and then call them to altar without any real solutions we have failed to give them the complete counsel of God!

I am doing what I am doing because I want to see hundreds of people find real life in Christ. I had to get out of my comfort zone to start a modern church. I had become a judgmental pastor and needed to change. I wanted to see and treat people like Jesus did. I wanted to accept them where they are, connect with them, show them the truth from God’s word, and then let them come to God on their own. I did not want to increase the church roll and just baptize someone; I wanted people to become followers of Jesus Christ who are growing in intimacy with him.

I’ll write more on this later this week because I’ve got to go for now. But I must say before I go that I appreciate the traditional church culture. It’s my heritage. Our world is big enough for all of us. If God is using your church to help people find real life in Christ, that’s fine with me. And God is pleased too! Let’s stop beating each other up and reach a world who needs Jesus.