Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Circulation of the Saints

My initial experience in discovering the gospel was 30 years ago. Since then I have been observing trends in how people mature spiritually.

The church that I attended was highly evangelistic. Sunday mornings were filled with messages such as,

Zacchaeus was a wee little man
And a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see
And as the Lord came passing by
He looked up in that tree
And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I’m going to your house today
For I’m going to your house to stay”

We loved it. Every week someone else came to know Jesus. We were enthusiastic. We were always trying to see how many more people we could get into our car to get to church. Our pastor would ask the question, “who here today has known Jesus for less than 5 years. Three quarters of the congregation of 280+ would raise their hands. It really was a magical time. I thought it was normal Christianity.

But then something began to happen in the people that were there. Zacchaeus was no longer a fun song. They wanted more depth in the preaching. They abandoned the call of “grin and bear it” and began looking elsewhere. The Word Faith movement was emerging in the early 80”s and many were allured by the promise of the “meat of the word.” The teaching was fabulous. People were serious about knowing the word. Standing on faith and the word was the mantra. It was great for many. Mind you, God help you if you got sick and weren’t healed.

So another change was needed. Another movement was available. They promised intimate worship times. These churches were part of a fellowship called “Vineyard”. (Vineyard music is still my favorite) Wonderful times of intimacy with God but what about discipleship?

Cell churches emerged with the mantra of growth in small packages. People were activated to do the work of the ministry. People were really interested in you. Lines of authority were broadened but not abandoned. (we do need a king) Apostles are now in fashion. You can go forth with the blessing of your very own Apostle. And for some burn out became a distinct possibility.

With this smorgasbord of church emphases available how could anyone not find their place in the body of Christ? Oops, something changed in society. My original evangelistic church no longer works. Unchurched Harry is no longer attracted to any of these things. And so seeker sensitive churches exploded onto the scene. They promised a painless, guilt free, entry into the world of church. People love the contemporary music, flashy powerpoints, movies, dramas, theater style seating, etc…

But what about deep teaching… intimate worship… real relationships… designed discipleship...

For those who have passed through this circulation of the saints model they aren’t really wanting to repeat the process. You do get tired with all the changing. So ultimately you settle on one of the components that you like best and thar you be.

Oops, I forgot. One last group has emerged. They have given up on all of these systems. They still love God but going to church is no longer a value for them. They have determined that, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” How will this happen? They don’t know. They only know that they don’t want to settle or be part of the circulation of the saints.

1 comment:

Jamie A. Grant said...

That's a really clear picture of the cycle that me and many of my friends have experienced over the past few years.