I watched American Gangster the other night. The storyline was unbelievable. It was a great American business story of success, of course it was an illegal business and the illegal parts came out in the movie. The reason this man became rich was he cut out the middle man and bought drugs straight from Asia. I think there is a lesson about being the middle man that the church needs to understand.
With the advent of the internet many professions are dropping by the way side, who still goes into a physical vidoe store? Does anyone still use a travel agent? We use the internet as much as a real estate agents advice in our quest to find a house? Many professions are changing because the middle man is not needed anymore. We can find and do things for ourselves that only 10 years ago we paid "professionals" to do it for us.
Has the church been the middle man in normal peoples knowledge and quest for God? In the old testemant the high priest was the middle man, when Jesus came he broke down this barrier. In the early Christian period scribes would be the most educated in reading the scripture and people would listen to them. In our current society the pastor has been the one with the most knowledge and we have listened to his educated opinions and interpretations on scriptures each and every sunday morning. Now whatever passage the pastor talks about we can do a quick internet search and find more about the subject than what the pastor could possibly cover in a 45 minute talk. So if the church's main purpose is for educating about God and how to have a relationship with God, it may be that people are going elsewhere because they can find more information.
Of course there is always going to be the need to educate but the in this current culture we live in this need isn't as high as in the past. Why would someone want to be involved in a church that preaching isn't as good as someone he can download? Why would I get out of bed to dialogue with people I can do the same with online? Why would I listen to music that I can to listen to to the same praise and worship chorus 50 different ways other places?
The problem may be that we have tried to market church in a way with resources they can get anywhere else. I drove by a billboard that church was using to promote their newest message series. It said sick of the same old bull try our church. I think the whole church clothes thing is overplayed. Who are these ads trying to reach.People who have tried some other church and had to dress up and listen to some sermon that they have heard before. Why in the world are we are encouraging church shoppers? Are these the real reasons people pick churches and if it is no wonder American Christianty is so shallow.
What is so appealling of other faiths or religons? Lets just imagine a mosque promoting themselves with a great music, casual dress, and 5 ways to improveyour sex life. Why have we dumbed ourselves down so much that Christianity is a laughing stock.
I don't think churches are the middle man, but I think that we need to get back to being on that passionate mission that Jesus told his disciples to be on.
I am in the midst of Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna. A indepth look at traditions of the church and it is a very challenging read. It justs seems that we as humans don't seem to break our cycles. just one quick little tidbit from the book. It asked the question why do churches have steeples? A greeat research question, and I will just say that the book draws parrellels between steeples and the tower of babel and we know how much God loved the people at Babel.