I had the honor in May of 2010 to preach at my home church, First Baptist Church of Moncks Corner, for their 90th year anniversary.
As I looked back over the last 36 years of my life and reflected on the events that God had chosen to allow to happen for me in that church I was struck by the incredible influence that God has had over me through this church.
I was born (not literally but almost) in this church and attended every weekend of my life, I was baptized, preached my first public sermon, licensed to ministry, saw the first person I ever led to Christ baptized and then married the same women in this church. I attended the funeral of my grandfather, my best friend in the world at that time, and preached the funeral of one of the best men the world has ever known (my uncle Herbie) in this church. I would say that I have left pieces of my soul in that church.
As I reflected on this place what I saw was that since 1920 this place had been in many ways a movement. But I also warned that just as quickly it can be a museum.
Then I remembered Hard Rock cafe Dallas.
In 1999 I first went to Hard Rock cafe in Dallas and immediately knew something was up with this place.
As I looked around, there were stained glass windows (of King Elvis, but stained glass all the same) and the place just felt like a church. A little research showed me that in fact this had been just that – a vibrant fast growing church. Planted in 1906 and quickly growing to over 1000 in attendance this place had been the location of Mckinney Avenue Baptist Church.
Now I was eating buffalo wings and French fries while I stared at Madonna’s pointy breasted costume.
What had happened? Somewhere along the way the church had declined, merged with another local baptist church, moved out of the city and rented and then sold this building. Other churches had used the building but finally worship had ceased until finally in the early 1990′s Hard Rock cafe had moved in and worship had resumed. Worship of rock-n-roll – but worship all the same.
So the question for the church as we stand at this place in history is will the church continue to be a movement of artists who are working in a studio creating great works of art or will it become a museum where we stand back at look at the monuments of the old days. Will the men of the church rather encouraging young Rembrant’s to paint in ways that has never been done before in fact simply become curators of the old art protecting it all costs.
If we are just curators of old museum relics of the past – good gracious lets cancel this stuff and find something better to do – church is an awful hobby.
When Church is a hobby…
- Methods are valued over principles. HOW we do something over the outcomes.
- Programs are valued over progress. We sure aren’t going anywhere but at least we know where we are going.
- Policy is valued over people. Roberts rules of order become more important than Robert. Jesus died for Robert, not his rules.
- When evaluating anything new we ask “who will leave” rather than “who will come”.
Curators protect methods, programs and policies.
I believe with all my heart that the Church is one generation away from losing an entire generation of young people, maybe even less time if we do not do something. That something is to be a movement. Create new songs. Create new works of art called revitalized families and regenerated individuals.
I pray we are always artists and never curators, God help us.