Is Church Overstimulated?

The following was published in our church’s’ weekly newsletter.  It is written by our head minister, David Spain.  I found it interesting and thought-provoking enough to post it here.

I hope you enjoy.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a billboard on the north side of Norman that read – “Rethink Church: Life is exciting, church should be also.”  the message stirred some thoughts as I drove on.

It seems a couple of assumptions are being made.  First, that life is exciting.  At times that is true; many times it is not.  A deeper concern for me though is the presumption that life should be exciting, that the only kind of life worth living is a life that is being constantly stimulated or entertained.  One of our culture’s major problems is the expectation that life should be entertaining and exciting, and anything that falls short of that gives one license to seek something else.  I’ll stay committed to (fill in the blank here) as long as you keep me excited and entertained.  The demand for excitement is out of balance and it leads to the objectification of relationships and to a utilitarian perspective of life.

A second assumption is that church should be exciting.  If this is a reflection of culture’s addictive demands for excitement, then I could not disagree more.  To have the perspective that church is to do for me what culture should do for me is to place religion as a servant to the idolatry of self-satisfaction and turns God into one more item for consumption.  It leads to an approach to worship and church that looks to satisfy the consumer, and the measure of good worship is simply did I feel entertained, stimulated, and perhaps diverted or distracted from anything significant.  It is all about “feeling good.”

When considering church, I prefer the word engaging as opposed to exciting.  I do believe church/worship should be engaging, which at times could be exciting, but it would also include reflection, confession, forgiveness, challenge, repentance, reconciliation, commitment, thanksgiving, service, covenant, joy, mercy, love.  In a culture bowing to the idols of excitement and immediate gratification, church and worship are one of the few venues where genuine consideration is given to how one lives life.  If engagement is sacrificed at the altar of stimulation, then where indeed will people go to grow?

So, in spite of my negative reaction to the billboard’s advertisement, I guess it did its work.  It stirred some reflection, and it helped me to realize that I am all for rethinking church; I’m just opposed to unthinking church.  What do you think?

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