Who Moved My Praise
In 1998 a book was published called, "Who Moved My Cheese". It was written by Spencer Johnson and it was about understanding that change was constant and inevitable. The book addressed finding the language and tools to deal with changing times.
The old saying is that the one constant in life is change. So, how does that apply to the church? I have seen a number of changes in the church in the past 50 years. I have seen the proliferation of the Pentecostal movement, with its focus on jubilance and spirit infused services. I have seen the shift from denominational churches to non-denominational churches, with the focus on teaching versus preaching. I have seen the shift from robe clad preachers to jean wearing preachers. I have seen the shift from standing behind an ornate pulpit to walking around, Bible in hand, imparting the Word of God.
But, has it been enough?
Today's generation has a basic mistrust of the church. Denominations are eschewed. People are more likely to Google their spiritual questions than ask their religious leader. Despite the apparent rise of mega-churches, research shows fewer Americans attend church on a regular basis. As mega-churches grow, smaller to mid-size churches shrink. Church growth is not from new converts, rather from members of smaller and mid-size churches moving to larger, more social, more active and better connected churches.
The church, by and large, is not reaching the unchurched. But why? Why is church growth fueled by church shifting versus spiritual conversion?
I submit it is because we haven't figured out that our praise has been moved. We, as a church body, are still focused on the wrong thing. We are all about what is inside of our four walls. We are all about form and preaching to one another.
I do not have all the answers! I have not figured it all out. However, as I launch my new church, I am focused on finding the relocated cheese. I am focused on those who are tired of the hypocrisy of the church. I am focused on the people who are tired of the intolerance of the church. I am focused on those who are tired of the church being so judgmental. The church is a hospital. Yet, no one wants sick people in their churches.
Nowadays hospitals prefer to get people in and out as fast as possible, in an effort to maximize their profit. They don't want really sick people. They don't want people who have real issues. In a lot of cases, they end up sending their really sick people to other hospitals that specialize in "really sick people". Is that what we are doing in the church today? Are we intolerant of sick people? We don't want people that we consider to be sinners. We don't want people that are doing things with which we disagree. If you are one of those people, many churches say, don't stop at our church! Keep it moving!
Until we figure out who moved our praise; figure out the world has changed and figure out how to change with it, we will continue to see mega-churches get more mega; small and mid-size churches struggle to keep their doors open and the unchurched and formerly churched, continuing to stay away.
It is time we open the doors and our arms to all people and make our churches into community hospitals, that take everyone and anyone, without judgment. This is what God wants. This is how Jesus lived. This is where the praise is!