Yesterday, I went to one of my least favorite grocery stores. This store is closest to my house, but the parking lot is weird. They rarely have the things I want in stock, and they never have enough people working. I only needed three things, so I thought it would be okay.
The first thing I noticed was that there were very few shoppers wearing masks. The workers were all wearing mask, though. Thank Goodness. The number of COVID 19 cases in my community has gone up since we started opening restaurants and other businesses. That made me nervous.
Secondly, they had a very limited supply of what I needed. And when I got home, the thing I specifically went there to buy fell apart in my hands.
Lastly, there were not enough people working. The lines were long. I chose to use the self checkout, and even it had a line. The people were ill-equipped to serve themselves.
Why am I telling you this? Well, let me be honest. It’s kind of a metaphor for how I feel about church.
I’ve been in too many churches, where people were hiding behind masks. They never revealed their true selves to others in the congregation. They hid behind titles, or roles they played, but were too afraid to be vulnerable with the people they were in community with. One church person even went so far as to use a different name in church circles just to make it easier for the people in the congregation. How inauthentic! You should not have to water yourself down to be in fellowship. God wants our whole selves.
Secondly, some of the things we hear at church sound good. They look good. But they have no practical application. They literally fall apart when we try to use them. Shouting on Sunday does no good, if you can’t remember what was said by Monday afternoon.
And lastly, there aren’t enough workers. Too many of us show up on Sunday to be served, instead of coming to serve. The harvest is ripe but the laborers are few. Conversely, too many of our churches allow people to serve who have not been trained to do the work.
Rick Warren says the local church is the hope of the world. If that’s true, then our churches have to do better.