My wife had one of her most embarrassing moments last weekend. We were at the movies and were running a little late. In fact, the previews had already stated and I don’t like to be late to movies. Well, at Crossroads20 it is convenient to go to the bathroom before the movie because you can go in one door from the main lobby and come out another door where the theatres are. As usual, she told me to wait on her on the other side, but I wasn’t paying attention. A preview in the lobby had caught my attention as she walked away. It was only for a second that I looked away before I continued on to the men’s room (left to go into the men’s’ room, right to go into the women’s).
Anywho, as I walked into the men’s room I thought I caught a fleeting glance at what looked like Alison going into a stall. I could have sworn it was her blue jacket. I said, “Nah,” and went about my business at the urinal.
As I was washing my hands, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it had been Alison that went into that stall. Sure enough in the mirror, you could see her flip-flops and newly manicured toenails under the stall. I didn’t know what to do. I dried my hands and walked out to see the manager of the theater standing outside watching people come out. I decided then and there that I needed to distance myself from the inevitable. People were going to see Alison coming out of the men’s room and I didn’t want to be seen with her!
Sure enough, she comes strolling out, stops looks behind her as the manager and the woman coming out of the women’s restroom start to laugh. Her face turns bright red as she said, “I just totally went to the wrong bathroom, didn’t I?”
We laughed about it for a long time, but I had to ask her how it happened. I mean we go to the movies at that theatre all the time. She was dumbfounded. I then asked her, “when you walked in, I assume that the ladies’ room is the mirror image of the men’s (minus the urinals), didn’t you feel like something was wrong?” She said, “now that you mention it, it did seem a little backwards, but I had to go so I didn’t take time to think about what was wrong.”
I use my poor wife’s experience (with her permission) as an example of how I think I feel about Church. When I look at a church and what it is doing, most of the time I can’t help but feel like something’s a little off, like the way Churches are is a little backwards from the way it should be. I see two kinds of churches mostly: The latent church and the zealous church.
The latent churches have a lot of potential, but are absorbed too much in themselves. Yes, they may get out into the community occasionally to do something, but they are more concerned with people coming to them. Yes, they worship God, and yes, they may have some good programs, but the only access to the church is if you are on the inside. Usually theses churches are focused only on their own needs as a church and simply forget to, or refuse to be a part of the world around them.
Then I also see the zealous church. This is the active church that does as much as it can to convert others to Christianity. They are masters at going door to door, mailing or giving out tracks, or pushing their members at every opportunity to evangelize. These churches acknowledge the community around them, but are a counter-culture within the world. This is where the mass marketing of Christianity comes in. The world is sinful; we must convert the world to our world. This world includes only Christian music, books, fish on your car for every person in your family, Christian t-shirts, etc…
The theory is that the Church will create a world that is more Christian, and we will convert as many people as possible to our counter-culture and they will in effect be a better Christian because of it.
In my opinion, neither is achieving the great commission. I’m not saying that everything that every church does is wrong. Yes, some churches are trying hard to do the right thing. I am also not saying that either type of these churches are without good intentions. But, like Alison I can’t help but get the feeling that something is off, something is backwards.
Which brings me to my previous Blog. The U2 song has really gotten me to think about how I approach the un-churched/non-believer. We try so hard to get people to become Christian, but they can’t believe what we so strongly adhere to because they don’t see the Church fulfilling their needs. Yes, people have spiritual needs, but they also have other needs, and we are so caught up in “being spiritual”, that we don’t even think about dropping crumbs off our table. I can’t say I blame them. If the church is not out amongst the people in the world, if it is creating its own counter-culture instead of working in the world God has given to us, how can we expect to do the great things that Jesus told his disciples that they would be able to do?
“For we speak of signs and wonders
But we all need something other
They would believe if they were able
But they’re waiting on the crumbs from our table”