drive-thru church services

16 11 2006

Today someone showed me an ad for a church in the yellow pages, and it sounds like they’re catering more to people than to God.  Here’s the slogans :

  • Experience The Difference…
  • Biblical Teachings that apply to your life today
  • We’re doing music you’ll enjoy
  • Your kids will want to come back
  • You’ll be out in an hour
  • We’re not after your wallet

At least they’re using “Biblical Teachings”… you have to start with the Bible.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the music, but the bigger question is, does God enjoy it?  I don’t think He’s partial to certain music styles, but worship is about exalting God and giving Him glory — not about us enjoying it.  It’s good that they have something for the kids, because they are the future, and it’s never too early to start teaching them about God.

But the part that bothers me the most is the phrase “You’ll be out in an hour”.  Is the service about God or about people?  We want God to visit us in the service, and it seems insulting to have the mentality of, “I’ll give You an hour, God, but after that I’ve got other stuff to do.”  Why do we want to limit God?  Perhaps He wants to keep working in people’s lives in the altar time, or with an extended time of worship.  Too often church services are programmed to the max, leaving little room for actual interaction with God.  It’s like we fulfill our “religious” obligation and then go on with our lives.  We should be seeking after God, longing to dwell in His manifested presence, hungry to hear His voice, wanting to be convicted so we can repent and be closer to Him.

I’ve been in services that had no time limit, and it’s so refreshing.  The preacher should have a word from God for the congregation, and He should have however long he needs to give it.  And there should be plenty of altar time where we repent and apply the sermon to our lives.  I know that altar times are not very “fashionable” these days, and it saddens me.  We need to spend quality time with God while He is drawing us near.  How often have we felt convicted and/or challenged during a sermon and knew we should pray about it, but we put it off until later, then we’ve forgotten the sermon by the time we get to the parking lot and so we continue living like we have been?  If God is speaking to you, right then is the time to respond.  If we have to get to the restaurant by 12:10, then our priorities are wrong.

When God is working in your life during the altar time, it may take a while.  Sometimes 1 or 2 minutes just isn’t enough.  He is changing your life, and you know that is not an easy thing.  (Not that it takes God a long time… it takes us a long time.)  It may take a lot of confessing and weeping and meditating and worship, and we shouldn’t get in a hurry.  What else is more important?  Why are we in such a hurry to get out of church?  Is there anything better than dwelling in God’s presence?




2 responses

3 05 2007

I’m often sad when church is coming to a close. My pastor is always diging into some good stuff, only getting through a mere portion of his notes, and then he notes the time. And so things draw to a close. I would gladly sit and keep listening.

But we’re Americans, and we like to do everything fast. I much prefer the attitude I saw expressed in “The Heavenly Man.” Apparently at one point, the Chinese house churches asked that any preachers sent to them must be able to speak for more than two hours. I like that attitude a LOT.

4 05 2007

Yeah, our appetite is focused wrong here in America. Many people have no trouble with a 3-hour football game, or spending all day at the mall, or watching hours of TV, yet complain if a church service goes over an hour. If we’re Christians, shouldn’t we enjoy spending time with God more than that other stuff? If we get tired of praise & worship and hearing the Word, why would we think we’ll enjoy Heaven?

If we get tired of God after an hour or two, we really need to look at our heart. Either we don’t really love God like we think we do, or we’ve been filling up on too much of the world’s “junk food” that we aren’t hungry for the good stuff. It’s something to think about…

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