On the Plains of Moab Blog
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August 4, 2013, 11:52 AM

Oh, Bother.

I quoted from Jeremy Myers book in Sunday's sermon on the topic of worship.  Here is the full quote:

People stop attending church, not because they are rebelling against God, but because as a faithful member of the church, they are following God.  People want to love others like Jesus, and for whatever reason, sitting in a particular building at a certain time of the week hinders their ability to love and serve others in the way they feel Jesus is calling them.

Pastors and church leaders should not fight against this but should rejoice in it.  We should celebrate the fact that people want to follow Jesus into the world by loving and serving others.  Their departure from our church services should not be viewed as a threat but as a blessing.  It should be viewed as another step in the life of faith.  When people leave the church building to be the church in the world, it is a beautiful expression of the worldwide movement of the Spirit of God upon the people of God as the gospel of God expands the Kingdom of God.

This is why giving people permission to leave church is so important (many will eventually leave anyway).  Since many people are thinking of leaving, why not shock the socks off them and tell them to not come!  Rather than make them sneak out the door, rather than making them feel guilty for not attending church, rather than forcing them to come up with lame excuses as to why they “missed church,” why not show them the door by giving them permission to follow Jesus wherever He leads, even if it is away from the Sunday morning church service?

In fact, once we think about it, “missing church” and “attending church” should not even be in the church’s vocabulary.  Such terminology reveals a tendency to view church as a function and a place, rather than the people of God who follow Jesus into the world.  If we really want to help the people of God follow Jesus out into the world, we need to put up big EXIT signs on all our doors and lead people out of the building where they are trapped.  We need to send them out into the world where God can work in them and through them to bring light, love, and hope to the hurting people all around.  If people are exiting the church building anyway, the role of the pastor and church leader is not to block them or condemn them, but to bless them and guide them on their way.  Let’s invite people into the adventure of loving God and loving others outside the brick walls and stained glass of a church building.  One way we can show the people we are serious about this is by canceling the church service.

("Put Service Back Into The Church Service:  Making Your Church Service Look More Like Jesus" e-book by Jeremy Myers, Redeeming Press, 2013.  pp.27-28.)

As I said in my sermon, I am not entirely unsympathetic to the some of the issues in the church that I believe drove Jeremy to such an extreme position.  And, make no mistake, what he wrote is an extremely extreme position.  Yes, many pastors and church going people are deluding themselves into thinking that by just being in the room at 11:00 every Sunday, and every other time the doors are open, that they are good Christians.  However, that is no good reason to throw out God's ordained purposes for the building up and worshiping privileges that He has given to His Church.  I'm sorry that Myers experience in formal ministry was so negative.  

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