Today I spent some time with one of my favorite reality TV personalities — Gordon Ramsay. Well, not really, I just watched a bunch of episodes on HULU. The show is called Kitchen Nightmares. The premise is simple, a struggling restaurant, a successful restauranteur, and voila – you have a show.
But the show got me thinking. One of the common factors to all the owners of the struggling restaurant was that they had no clue what the problem was. When Chef Ramsay came in and told them what the issue was the reactions were all over the map. Some got angry (you would too if someone told you your food wasn’t fit for dogs.) Others became despondent. Some were fearful. Personally I can understand all of the responses. After all, it is their livelihood on the line, as well as their lifelong dreams.
When it comes to the church I think that we often tend to think of this the wrong way. Some of us know that there is something wrong with the church. Some, though, are oblivious as to what the problem is. Then there is the group of people who simply get angry and defensive when informed that their church has an issue. The problem here (at least in this scenario) is that the grammar is all wrong. The grammar? Yep! The grammar.
The possessive is in the wrong location. It is not our church. It is not about our dreams, or our desires. It is not about our traditions. It is not about our hopes, backgrounds or preferences. It is GOD’s church! He has the plan! It is His desire that matters. God has a plan spelled out for every church. Did you get that? That means that God has one perfect plan for every church! Does that mean that all churches should be identical? Absolutely NOT! The plan is the same for every church. The execution is dependent on the location, situation, neighborhood . . . You get the idea.
So what are the determining factors in what makes a church a success?
First it is about the purpose. The church exists to bring glory to God. (You are probably thinking, DUH!) But most churches have no idea what that looks like. Think of it this way; the church is like a telescope. It is supposed to take beautiful things that are far away an out of focus and bring them into clear relief and sharp contrast. The church’s job is to help individuals come to see God the same way. It must be accurate and precise. But when something as wonderful as the night sky is seen well it also brings a sense of wonder. Most of out churches do well in one or the other of these aspects — but not in both.
In a restaurant people come in are served and then, once the bill is paid, simply leave. In a church this should cause us all to be truly concerned. We came, we got what we wanted, we did our duty and now let’s all go home. What is lacking is shockingly simple. God! That’s it. We gathered in His name, we sang to Him, we talked about Him, but would it matter to us if He was even there? (Maybe that is why many church services are like funerals, we are simply memorializing someone who is no longer there.)
Friends, it is time we realized that we need to know God accurately, BUT, not forget that to know Him we must also pursue Him passionately. What about you? What about your church? Does it /do you need a total makeover?