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Where do you begin?

May 24, 2010


Let me see. How about with a story? There is a house in my neighborhood. I know the owner. Nice guy, very interesting, loves his family. You know how churches today often have yard signs so people know who you worship with? Well in a six month span his yard looked like some kind of rotating billboard. For a few months one sign graced his front yard. Then it was blank for a month or two until a new sign took the formers place. That one was there for a few month until the yard was barren again. Currently the yard is empty, awaiting its next sign.

The question was asked, what would you do about the self-centered nature of the church today. First thing, understand it is going to be an uphill climb. I have probably already shared this here before but I think it is important to understand what we are up against. I was on a church web site that had the tag, “Love God, Love Yourself, Love Others.” I appreciated their honesty.

That is how the American Church functions isn’t it? You ask a group of people why they are a part of a church and the answer is, because of what I get from it, at least it is when I have asked. I am a part of this church because what is in it for me. I would submit that this selfishness is so ingrained that we hardly notice and rarely blink an eye. Why did you leave that church? “I just wasn’t being fed.” Have you ever heard that one? Why are you searching for a new place of worship? “The place we are at has nothing for our kids.”

Defensive? Notice that selfishness invades those very common refrains. Someone is bound to jump in about now and say “Come on Darin, we need to grow and be fed.” I couldn’t agree more but is that how it gets done? The thinking is so incredible backwards and yet most discussions in the church start in this exact place.

We start the conversation with ourselves. Our happiness, our joy, what God has done for me. We do it so much and have done it for so long that we hardly recognize our self-absorption. How are you ever going to lose yourself in the story when spend your time so self-focused?

Since you realize it is an uphill battle you need to start by identifying all of the areas where you allow this self-focus to invade your church. Start with your Sunday messages. How many during the past month were all about making your members lives better? Think about what you have been talking about for the past year. Did the focus begin and end with the individual or did it begin and end with God? The church? The reality is I can preach a sermon about parenting that is totally individual focused or I can preach a message that is God and other in nature. Does that make sense? So you look at the emphasis of your Sunday messages and you see, where was the focus.

Do the same for your adult classes and then take time to look at your children and youth material. How often is your class material all about what God is going to do for the individual? I know first hand about some children curriculum. It is a steady diet of what God will do for the child.

You see I can tell people we are supposed to be servants, that what is really best is if we die to self, but if I feed them a steady diet of it is all about you they will get the point. They will give you a Saturday on occasion and make it about someone else because they know things will get back to normal Sunday. We will get back to making it all about me.

First step, it is an uphill battle so you need to take time to access what you are teaching. What message do you send?

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