Saturday, May 19, 2012

Going To Church Sure Is Different

At the request of the owner of Faultline USA I am posting the blog post which appeared on "Jus Sayin".   Hope you enjoy.

Going To Church Sure Is Different
I caught some flack over the article posted (What Has Happened to Churches) last week, and I’m sure to catch even more from this one. It seems that some readers didn't like having the "status quo" of their churches questioned or even compared to days gone by.  I received eMails (not posted on the blog for fear of revealing themselves) stating that "times have changed, and you need to get into the 21st century."  "Stop putting down churches that you know nothing about. You have never attended this church, so how can you dare compare it …" (That one sounds as if I really stepped on some toes.)

I am not making these posts to demean anyone or their church but merely to show that "times have, in fact, changed," and it’s not necessarily for the better. The descriptions of the actions I speak of are a combined reflection rather than a precise characterization of any one church, so no one can say, “Ah-ha, I know where that church is” … “I know Ticker went there, and he is picking on them because …” Well, folks, it’s not true. However, if you see yourself or your church in this mix, then maybe you need to look at what is going on there and start asking questions. Sometimes, just a chuckle and a wish for the "good old days" is all one can do.

Last week, we offered a description of churches and how they had changed in even recent years. This week, maybe you will see your congregation. (I hope not but no doubt some will.)  Perhaps you have been in some churches where you weren't sure just who the "preacher" was until he stood behind the pulpit to speak and didn't sit down after making the announcements. Of course, these days the "preacher" is just as apt to sit down in a lounge chair or on a stool as he is to stand behind a pulpit. Some claim they don't want separation between them and the congregation, and I reckon that is all well and good if that is what it’s for.

In times past, ministers wore coats and ties—suits, no less. Today, one is apt to find a "minister" dressed in jeans with holes in them, tank tops or tee shirts, and sandals or flip flops, all akin to what one might wear to a rock concert or some outdoor sporting event. It appeared bad enough when "Praise teams" appeared on stage in shorts, tight jeans, tank tops, or tops that showed more cleavage than a Vegas stripper, and wearing flip flops no less. But now the "ministers" are following suit. Stages appear more like a backdrop for a rock concert than a church service with flashing lights and "pop-up" ads on the screen where the words of songs usually appear. Ads for "workers to mow the grass next week" or reminders to give more money to such and such so the kids can have pizza, etc., etc.

Remember the days when the congregation sang from a Hymn book and most people knew the songs well enough that they didn't even need the book to sing along? If you had the old Baptist Hymnal, you knew that "Just As I Am" was number 186, and you didn't need the book for the “Doxology” or for “Holy, Holy, Holy,” which opened most Sunday Morning services. Now it seems that the songs change like the Top Billboard Hits and require a large screen so that everyone can sing along. Of course, that works out well for us older folks who need our bifocals to read the lyrics. But one has to wonder what happened to the little bouncing "white ball" that appeared on such sing-along shows as "Sing Along with Mitch" from the 50s and early 60s. The members of the Praise Team seem to be on a trampoline as they jump continuously to the beat of the sound. Exercise is a good thing, I suppose, and I can't say much about dancing since King David danced until his clothes fell off. Let's just hope that some Praise Teams don't get that carried away with their gyrations, especially in those strapless tops. Talk aout a stir!

The Sanctuary has gone from being “the Sanctuary,” a sanctified place, to “the Auditorium” to "the gathering place" to the "living room" to the "lounge," many of them complete with fresh "latte," which some try to balance while clapping and jumping to the music in "worship time.”  Not a thing wrong with a good coffee bar in the "vestibule" (do folks even call it that anymore?) for those who need that cup of java to jump start them and don't take time to make it on Sunday morning so as not to waste over half a pot. We have been in a few where there were tables, as in a café  or lounge, where one could spread out and enjoy the "latte" or mocha or coffee in a relaxed atmosphere rather than in the pews. Some folks had their iPads or Smartphones on the table texting to who knows who during the sermon or maybe playing games if the sermon was a bit slow in developing. One preacher I know even lets people text him questions while he preaching. In some churches, you have to wonder if you are in a night club or a coffee house, and in some, there is little difference.

What about those fancy titles some preachers are using nowadays? Some still use “Reverend” in front of their name, but sometimes you  have to wonder, given that the definition is "1. a title of respect applied to the name of a member of the clergy or a religious order.  2. one worthy to be revered; entitled to reverence.” It would be a stretch for some to wear that name in the midst of a Christian "congregation."

Some are called “Minister,” which may be closer to reality, since the title denotes “one authorized to conduct religious worship; a member of the clergy.”  But even that is in question considering the lack of "reverence" within the place of "worship."

Then, of course, there are “Bishop,” “Most High and Exalted Esteemed Bishop,” “High, Holy Uplifted Bishop,” and other ridiculous titles and names given to so-called leaders in churches—by themselves as is usually the case—since few of them come anywhere close to meeting the biblical criteria for the title. In the old days, we just called ‘em “Preacher So and So.” It covered a lot of ground that way. Even if their skills in "preaching" were a bit lacking, they made up for it by being a good teacher, or even just a good shepherd of the flock.

One title that is steadily disappearing these days is “Pastor”—a clergyman or priest in charge of a congregation, a person who exercises spiritual guidance over a number of people, an archaic word for “shepherd.”

As has been said before, there seems to be little "guidance," or should we say “discipling,” in congregations these days and certainly there is little to no shepherding by “men of the cloth." Observance would say that it is because of the emphasis put on numbers—growth in attendance—rather than on disciplining or "shepherding."

In past times, the Pastor was the first to come visiting if someone was ill, in the hospital, or just in need, and the deacons and elders would follow up, whether necessary or not, because they cared for one another. Today, it is doubtful that those in leadership will even know when a member is suffering, much less take time for a visit. If you are lucky, you might get a mention on the "website" where prayer requests are posted.

Want to be missed? Miss sending in your tithe while absent due to illness, and you can be assured that notice will be taken. Of course, with today’s “online auto-debit giving" the funds will be automatically transferred from your bank account to the church account. So if you are sick, on vacation, or even dead, the money continues to flow in.

No, thanks, to these modern ideas. I'll just stick mine in the plate, in cash, with no name attached, just like the widow who gave her last mite in the Temple to the notice of no one except Jesus.

How about you? Have you noticed these things in your congregation?  Share what you see right and what you see as needing some improvement.


  1. Yup I certainly agree. Whenever you feel upset just go to the church and pray calmly for sometime. Lord Jesus will wipe all your problems.

  2. Worship forms have changed throughout the ages but this article points out very clearly where modern forms may be missing the boat.

  3. Faultline and I have discussed this topic before. Also I've discussed it with Ticker. His article is true and if it hurts some people's feelings, then too bad. Sometimes the truth hurts. Too many have turned into social clubs, filled with political correctness and giving folks a place to congregate (rather than a place to worship God and study his Word)

    Right Truth

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Sunday we watched a visiting couple walk out of our church even before the pastor had given a sermon. It was, no doubt, the hard rocking Gospel music that has completely replaced traditional hymns. I noticed that the couple looked uncomfortable during the several songs that were played but stayed long enough to convince themselves that there was no other kind of music being offered at our church. Oh well, they were older folks in their early 60's and our church prides itself on it's very popular youth programs. We're not going to change our music to pander to these over the hill types! But we visited with them before the service. It was their first (and most likely last) visit to our church. They are quite prominent and wealthy. Too bad. They might have helped with that big donation our church is praying for. Hope somebody learns a lesson here.

  6. This is a response from the author, AF Ticker, at Jus Saying:

    To Anonymous: We are over 60 and often enjoy the newer songs that give praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have been in some where the music was beyond what we have heard in night clubs. Our grandson is very much into writing and playing the "newer" music but he even finds a limit to it.

    I found your last statement to be very interesting as this is what we have found on many churches. They are interested more in our $$$ than they are in the other things that we can contribute. We have spotted these real quickly and we leave just as quick. We are not "prominent" nor are we really wealthy , at least in our eyes. Some think we are worth more in the matter of $$$ than we are and we are not going to allow them to find out just how much we are worth. We are very comfortable and we believe in giving to the work of the Lord.

    We have our own small organization that helps those in need which is above and beyond our tithe. We do not ask for outside donations but depend on the Blessings of God to do the work that He has shown us to do.

    Churches that are more interested in your bank account than in you as a person are those which I write about. I hope that you and your congregation will find that there are more than "youth" that are out there and need what the "church" is supposed to offer and it is not just "pride in popular youth programs. I hope that they can support the work the Jesus intended the church to do.

    Yes indeed, I hope that someone learns a lesson here. Remember the words of Paul: we are to be in the world but not of the world. That is the real lesson here Anon.

  7. Going to church and spending sometime there will always give calmness to the mind. A private conversation between you and Jesus Christ will help in solving all the worries.