Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Problem with the Free Church

I was serving at a church years ago that had a strategy that involved block parties. In the supplies for the block parties were signs that we placed along the road, and many of them involved the word "free". Everything at the block parties was given away, the hot dogs and chips and drinks and so forth. This isn't uncommon, I served at another church that did block parties and gave things to the people who came. This is a good idea and it's a great ministry. When doing so, I remember talking with my lead pastor about the signs. I wasn't a great fan of the wording that everything was a "free".

You see, at a church block party it's not free. The lead pastor and I went to Costco to buy the supplies, so I know they were not free. In that same church we did a coffee house church service, and we gave away coffee. Good coffee, and it was made on a very good espresso maker. The coffee wasn't free either, it just didn't cost the recipients anything. There was a cost, it cost someone.

Salvation is a gift of God that we do nothing to earn or merit or deserve, but it's not free. It cost Jesus everything to purchase our ransom. Discipleship also has a cost, in fact it should cost us everything. There should be nothing in our lives that we don't lay down before the cross. We should be willing to give our hearts, lives, money, time, and energy to serve Christ.

The problem with the church is often that there is no cost and people have begin to not give. There are two sides to this issue I want to unpack, first is those in the pews. People have come to expect that church will cost them nothing. They are there to spectate. I have heard people complain about the music, the preaching, the seating, the lighting, the sound and the temperature of the worship area. There is too much of an expectation to come and be taken care of. We have become consumers of church. This is bad, and it's not what Jesus had in mind. When He said "church" what He implied by the very word is that people would come together to contribute and unite and invest and be involved. It takes time, talent, money, effort, thought and investment. You and I should contribute to the church, not just partake. You don't go to church to be "fed" you go to invest.

People have become lazy, and leaders have empowered the church. Those who are in control often don't want to give up control. They don't want things to look bad or get out of control. They don't share power, they don't include others in the decision making. They want to run the show, so they never open up enough to let others contribute. There is a controlling atmosphere that the leaders come together and shut and lock anyone else out from being involved. They can't contribute because they are not allowed to contribute anywhere. Many leaders take the "us four, no more, lock the door" attitude towards church ministry.

It's time to stop it. It's not free, church isn't free and neither are we. If you are alive, you are either a slave to sin or to Christ. Let those who are slaves to Christ serve Christ to ensure the slaves to sin can be set free. Let's contribute, let's invest and let's change the sign. Instead of saying "everything free" let's say "Christ paid the price for our salvation, so we would like to pay the price for your enjoyment today". It may be a little wordy, but it's the right message.

1 comment:

  1. Good thoughts...How about the sign saying "Everything Costs, but Paid for You"