Our Idolatry of Quality. The Church and Chili's
Our return to church in social distancing is going to be inconvenient. You may have to wear a mask. There may be limited seating and restroom facilities. Most likely, there will be no nursery or children's programs.
Due to the inconveniences, many churches are choosing to delay their return. I will admit, as a church leader, it has been challenging to make decisions based on changing information. So I have been watching numerous webinars from pastors around the country sharing their ideas for a safe return to church.
A common recommendation for return was to wait until your church could provide a quality experience.
We should be concerned for quality. When we do something for the Lord, it ought to be our best. But if it's all about quality, what makes us any different than the restaurant chain Chili's? Chili's is also trying to assure that people can return to their restaurants and have a quality experience. Like Chili's, your church will offer limited seating during social distancing. Much like Chili's, your church will also have to observe health department regulations.
So what makes our churches any different than Chili's?
While we should always seek to offer a quality experience, we must realize that a quality experience is not our ultimate call. The call of the church is to help people experience God in the real world. We need to repent of our idolatry of quality.
I would describe the church in it's infancy as people of great devotion who caused a great commotion.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. . . And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.Acts 2:42-43, 47b
A Church Incapable of Quality
The word "awe" translated in this passage can also be translated as "fear." It describes a careful, respectful, watching of a noticeable activity of God taking place in the church.
The church is not distinct quality. The church is distinct in power.
The Acts 2 church was incapable of providing what we deem to be a quality church experience. They were facing persecution. Persecution is not a question of quality, it's a question of devotion.
The "awe" of the church is not its facilities, nurseries, or music. You'll never be able to offer a show better than the one the Jonas Brothers put on last summer in ATL. If you think that your church is amazing because you have Life Groups where people can "do life," you need to awaken to the realization that many people are just fine drinking beer and "doing life" with their bowling team on Thursday night.
But if people could see a group of happy worshipers gathered, devoted to Biblical truth, radically redeemed by Jesus - empowered by the Holy Spirit, and unapologetic in their witness of the gospel . . . now that's different!
We need to be concerned about quality. But if we are ultimately concerned for quality, other than lack of a menu, what makes your church any different than the neighborhood grill? Shouldn't your church have a different goal than Chili's?
Let's make it our aim to return to church and experience God together. Let us be people of great devotion (undeterred by inconvenience) who cause a great commotion.
Bible Study and Challenge
Read Acts 2:42-47
- Make a list of actions that exhibit the people's devotion.
- What was God doing in the early church?
- How does this passage lead you to pray for your church?
Notice that the devotion in Acts 2 was plural. "They devoted themselves." We obviously have to make a personal decision to be devoted, but challenge your church or Life Group to not just be religiously busy but devoted to experiencing God.