Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Turning Point

When I go outside to grill some hamburgers, I usually take a Bible with me to do some reading while the burgers are sizzling. So, the other day I was sitting out there reading the early pages of the book of Joshua.  It had been awhile since I had read that old story of the Battle of Jericho.  Preachers have a hard time reading the Bible without seeing sermons.  The more I read, the more sermons I saw which needed preaching.  At this point in life, I recognize that there will not be enough time to preach all the sermons.  But, then, maybe such has been true from the very beginning.
Before the burgers got done, I found myself thinking about the demise of Sunday night worship and Sunday night preaching.  When I started out preaching, most every preacher in these parts could count on preaching Sunday morning and Sunday night.  Being a preacher's kid I did not miss many of them!  When the church lost Sunday night worship, preachers lost an opportunity for preaching.  Sunday night television, the idea that Sunday was a family day, and preachers who acquiesced too easily to change cost the preacher this extra moment for preaching and the church an extra moment for hearing some of the great stories of the Bible being preached.  When the "hour a week" mentality gripped the church and took over, the church and its people were the real losers.
It is not that Sunday night worship can be the salvation of the church.  It will not cure all its ailments and correct all its flaws.  It is more about the road taken by the church and its leaders.  We took the road that led to less instead of more when our culture was needing more instead of less.  We took the road paved with the idea that culture had more to say to the church than the church to the culture.  Our choosing to be like the culture instead of a sacred spiritual community has been a costly one that will not be turned around by glitzy gimmicks designed to increase crowds and raise money.  The turn around point may actually be the moment of embracing the identity that we started forsaking back in the day when we decided it was no longer a good thing for the people of God to gather a second time on Sunday.

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