Yesterday Brittany and I went to church at a bar. It’s my mom’s church in Fort Pierce, FL. No, she’s not an alcoholic. It’s just where her church meets every week. She’s been going for years. I went with my mom a few years ago, and there were about 30 to 40 people in attendance. This time there were a few hundred people.
It’s a restaurant/bar with all-outside seating. The congregation sang worship with recorded tracks. There were people eating breakfast during the service as a waitress walked around. I didn’t see any intelligent lights. They had only a few speakers for a sound system. No ushers came and took up an offering. The pastor was in shorts and a T-shirt.
And for the entire service I sat there thankful to be wearing sunglasses because I was literally holding back tears. I can’t explain it. I just felt a sweet presence of God while I was there. It was a feeling that said that I belonged there. Because I feel like everyone was welcome there.
I actually know some people from other churches that would go to a service like this one and pick it apart. They would say they weren’t being relevant enough. There wasn’t enough media. There were too many pauses disrupting the service flow. Just any dumb thing you can think of.
I leaned over to Brittany at one point and said, “You know, I think if the Apostles were around today, this is what their services would look like.” She agreed and told me that I was really good-looking and intelligent. (Ok I paraphrased what I thought her nodding her head meant.)
I’m not against churches that have intelligent lights and a really awesome sound system. I’m not against massive sanctuaries with stadium seating. I’m not against catchy sermons with pastors who wear the latest fashions. What I am against is Christians judging other church services based on performance and production attributes.
You know what Jesus’ sound system was? A boat on the water. Peter just walked around and talked to people on the streets. The Apostle Paul didn’t have a billboard with his name on it; he said himself that he didn’t come with persuasive words, but a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:1-4)
If you ask me, I don’t think the future of the church is better lighting and cooler video sermon intros. I think the future of the church is services like I saw today. A group of believers that will meet people where they are. People that aren’t so busy being uptight that they actually have the time to build relationships.
My mom’s pastor was about as raw and real as it gets. He didn’t even try to pretend to be someone he wasn’t. I believe that’s why I connected with him. I can’t connect with someone I don’t think has any flaws because they wouldn’t be anything like me, as I am full of my own shortcomings.
I know there are some churches that spend thousands of dollars on a Christmas service that they are hoping will win people over to our side. Again, I’m not against cool productions. But at the end of the day, if we’re not giving people a real and raw Gospel, we’re just giving them noise and distractions. I love seeing fireworks at Disney World, but none of the fireworks make me want to dedicate my life to a mouse.