I have had more time for books lately and have reviewed some newer ones purchased by our church librarian. I have read The Shack, So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore, Who Stole my Church, Pagan Christianity, and more. If you look up any of these books on Amazon, a list of many other books on a similar theme appears. One that caught my eye was Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation. The church has lost much of its appeal with the generation now in their late teens, 20s and 30s.
Common themes run through these books. People are tired of religion and its rules, polished “worship”, and churches that run like businesses, clubs, shows or political organizations. Pastors are burned out by bickering congregations, by people who resist change and spread discontentment everywhere they go. Some church members (I hate to call them Christians) just want to be pampered, and move from assembly to assembly following their friends as they look for perfect leaders and programs.
I was born on a Sunday, attended my first service the following week and have been active in a church ever since. My immediate and extended family include several pastors and others in full time and volunteer ministry. I was taught to serve God and to be involved in Christian service in the church. This week I was reading from Luke 15:15-17 where Jesus says to his disciples before his death,
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.
love feasts of the New Testament evolved into church services as the church later centred around buildings and clergy.
I also read a book by Sheila Walsh called Extraordinary Faith. She was sidelined unexpectedly from her planned schedule of service and God spoke to her heart saying,
“I have many servants and few friends; many who will do things for me, few who just want to love me. I don't want your work; I want your heart.”
Isn’t that true? We don’t expect our friends to be constantly working and doing things for us because they feel it is their duty. We serve happily when we love first.
"Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Share with God's people who need help; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody. Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone."