Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I saw this as I drove around, trying to acclimate myself somewhat to the City of Reno, and it immediately brought up some questions like, "What kind of church was this?", "What happened?", "Where did the people go?", and "How long did it take for the Gospel to lose it's power and for religious duty to set in?". As I pondered these things today, I came to realize that for many of the churches peppering the American landscape, the stark reality is that they don't look much different than this bank does. Many churches treat Christian faith like an exchange of goods and services. You come in, deposit something of value, get sound advice from a professional and hope that you earn a return on your investment. So the question is "Are you surprised by this church-bank conversion?" I'm saddened for sure, but surprised, I am not. Now obviously I didn't know this church personally, but I do know the Gospel, and I understand the cultural landscape of Reno pretty well. What inevitably happens in every church that stops proclaiming the Gospel is that first the mission goes, then the giving goes, then the community goes, and on and on until there is no longer a gospel people doing gospel things for gospel reasons, but a people who revert to "business as usual" by just coming, consuming and refusing to serve or give themselves to any task that is not about them. See, the Gospel is the opposite of "business as usual", and the church stands and falls on the Gospel. No person, idea, funding or persistence can keep it alive, and eventually everyone will just give up, because they no longer have anything to fight for. So pastors, do you live, lead and preach like your building a business, or are you receiving a kingdom and building into that? Christians, why do you come to church? do you come for an exchange of goods and services, hoping to increase your spiritual pay-off, or do you come to sacrificially love, serve and give for the sake of the Gospel?
May our churches never look like banks, but like hospitals for the sick, families for the orphans and refuge for the vagrants.