Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Interview

Yesterday I was interviewed by a local paper regarding the launch of a new service at the church. He asked good questions. Hopefully, I gave good answers.

The last questions were especially difficult. “Why should it bother a church that so many in our culture choose to stay at home on Sunday mornings? Why don’t you just grab those you can and not worry about the rest?”

Why indeed?

The geographical place (near western suburbs of Chicago) where I do ministry is populated with overachieving, high pressure, driven, affluent people. They run and run and run some more. They look tired. They talk tired. They are often arrogant when they talk about what they do and don’t believe. And they are looking for something to fill some holes in the very depths of their being but oftentimes won’t admit it. Sometimes I wonder if they know how to listen to the longings deep inside them. Most of these people stay at home on Sunday mornings. They don’t see the church as having relevance. They’re bored by church services and look at God only as ‘good luck’ for weddings, funerals, and perhaps the baptism of newborns.

These people matter to God. They should matter to us.

There’s another group of people. They go to church and are quite satisfied. They’re religious. But have they turned the corner and become ‘followers of Jesus’? These folks settle for churchmanship, ceremony and ritual at the expense of authentic faith experience. You’ve been in their churches. And walked away dissatisfied.

These people, too, matter to God. They should matter to us.

And there are those who ‘get it’. They love Jesus. They don’t want to be religious. They want their tithe to count. They don’t want to hunker down. And they’re not in our churches. They believe in community but feel out of place in most churches. And they know that ‘community’ is essential to their spiritual growth They’re concerned about a disinterested culture but have no place to live out that concern.

These people matter to God. They should matter to us.

These are the people we’re trying to reach.

Those who get it but aren’t involved.
The religious who are involved but don’t get it.
And a waiting culture aching to get it but don’t know it.

It’s hard to explain all this to a reporter who, at best, might only know about religion and nothing about men and women alive in their faith. And so, he wonders ‘why does it matter to you that people stay away on Sunday mornings?”

These people matter to God. They should matter to us.

In the first sermon of our new service we talked about Mark 1 and 2. The healing of the paralytic. He was the one carried to Jesus on a mat, lowered through the roof.

The second chapter of the Gospel of Mark starts with these words. A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door and he preached the word to them.

No room. That was the story of Jesus life. There was no room in the inn when he was born and now no room for all those wanting to see and listen to him.

It doesn’t surprise me that people crowded in to see Him. Jesus had been in and around Capernaum, his home base, for days.. We read that he was speaking with great authority in the synagogue when a demon possessed man entered. Jesus silenced the demon and released the man from bondage.

Immediately after that Jesus went just down the road to Simon’s mother in laws house. She was sick with a fever. He touched her. The fever went away.

And then, in a short period of time, Jesus saw lots of people …everyone was looking for him …lots of people wanting to see him, to hear him and maybe, just maybe be healed.

In the Galilee the word spread like wildfire. The gossip mills were working overtime …whenever anyone said “What’s up?”. The quick answer was this guy named Jesus. Demons obeyed him, he spoke with authority, men and women were following him and people were being healed. And I can imagine anyone hearing this news looking at the person and saying …”Seriously? For real? Honest?” And the word back. “ Seriously. Saw it with my own eyes. For real.”

So, it’s no wonder when he came back into town that he drew a crowd. And in front of that crowd Jesus cured a man ‘inside and out’. An everyone was amazed.

There’s something about Jesus that is attractive and life giving. We’ve forgotten that. People came to see Jesus. He transforms lives.

Maybe that’s what I should have told that reporter instead of some mumbo jumbo about spiritual DNA, blah, blah, blah.

Maybe I should have just said to the reporter. ‘Come and see’. Let us introduce you to Jesus from the Galilee. We’ll make room for you. Take your time. Ask your questions. Find healing for your terminal restlessness. Learn that less can be more.

That’s really what it’s all about. Our church is starting a new service because we want ‘religious people to discover the joy of relationship’ and we want a disinterested culture to find out they matter to God and we want those who know the value of community to finally experience it.


Khris said...

This is a great post! I hope this new service sparks a revival like none you have ever seen before! I live a thousand miles away from you and this post excites me! May God richly bless your efforts to reach those you spoke of.

Mike said...

Kris. Thanks for your thumbs up. Means a lot. The first two service have been really gratifying.

We really don't know what we're doing completely. Not cocky at all about it. God is at work though. Pretty exciting.