The question that burns in my mind (at the moment, and it has nothing to do with the pills) is this: what do we really want?
I hear a lot of talk about how the culture is going down the drain. And rightly so. The culture is going down the drain. Some good, of course, has come from it, but the modern moral consciousness is shot. This is something I think we can all agree on.
But what are we doing about it? Answer the question personally. What are you doing about it? Derek Webb has a great line from his song “T-Shirts”. It goes They’ll know us by our picket lines and signs. They’ll know us by the pride we hide behind. Which is actually two lines. But there’s a point there that needs to be made. Are the things we know a source of pride? Or are we just apathetic? Or are we afraid?
Try, in Ontario, in conservative Reformed circles, to get out there. In your personal life, that’s easy enough. But the church as a whole? Not! If you want to be involved in the culture as a whole, you have to move outside our circles to do it.
I went to Baptist church in Mississauga for a while. They were active in the community, doing things that brought them out of their comfort zones. There was no culture shock, walking in the building on Sunday. It was something of an eye-opener for me, even though I didn’t grow up in Reformed circles (which in a way, I think, was good thing for me). That’s the kind of church I want to see, and the kind of church I want to be, considering there’s no sense in just talking about things.
Let me ask you — what sort of outreach programs does your church have? Yes, personal evangelism is a primary way of change. But the church’s individual members are also part of a whole, remember, and if the whole is involved, that brings across the ethic of evangelism that we need. It also gives us a chance to flex our communal muscle, for people to see how we work together and how we love eachother. How we’re not just another social club that happens to sing hymns.
Now, you may be thinking “We’re in the middle of the country. How do we do stuff out here?” And yeah, that’s a problem. We’re a lot of rural churches. But then again, how many of our churches are close to a major urban centre? I can tick ten churches off the top of my head, from URC, OCRC, ICRC, whatever. If you’re not actually in the city, what’s stopping you from being there? Or being close to there? Start up an outreach service, by all means. Rent a gym on Saturdays or Sundays. Serve a free meal to people — no strings attached — in between services. Do it on the sidewalk. Talk to passersby. Involve yourselves in street ministies. Soup kitchens. Homeless shelters. Drive cancer patients to their therapies. Whatever it takes.
Derek Webb also has a line in one of his songs, If you love Me, you will love My church. And if (like Sarah says) love is also pointing out flaws, let these paragraphs be my little bit of old fashioned lovin’.
But that brings me back to my original question: what do we want? To be God’s arms and feet in the culture? Or to sit back in our pleasant suburban homes and hope no one bothers us? In that case, how are we any different from the culture surrounding us? That mostly what they want, too.