It is Wednesday night church and I am sitting in the back. I listened to our speaker giving his testimonial, a moving one, and good delivery. The lead Pastor comes up to close the night, he is a young Pastor with no formal training in Theology and he likes always to try and amp things up. So, I am sitting there, just waiting for him to finish the request for prayers. Like many times, he tries to take it to an amplified emotional step, so I am sitting there and all of a sudden, he wants everyone to stand for the prayer. At that moment, I accidentally let out my frustration with his methodology. Because he always is trying to make the moment bigger than it seems to need to be. Instead of just letting it flow . . . and I have to admit, I have some pent-up frustration with his preaching antics. The worst part is a woman sitting a couple rows in front of me, I think she heard me.
As I walked out to my car, I began to think maybe it is time for me to change churches.
I may not be able to find a church I like because I am against or resist the antics which seem to me to be more about the Church and the Pastor then Jesus or God.
Here are some of the things which attribute to my attitude:
The now, Lead Pastor is not a Theologian. Not all Pastors have to be formally educated but in today’s world, it really helps. Why, because now we all have Bibles, have study Bibles and have access to the internet. Thus, for our Pastor to have superior knowledge, it just about demands they have at a minimum a degree in Theology if not a Ph.D.
It is clear he does not have a Theology degree because each time he preaches, no matter what he starts to preach, he falls back on the inspiration, motivational aspect of preaching and without a doubt, always reminds us that if God can make this lost nineteen-year-old a Pastor, God can do anything. I don’t disagree with this, but every time he preaches, he reminds us of the fact. I am very proud of him, but I am there for a refill on God, not to be proud of my Pastor.
The second thing which has me feeling we are glorifying the pastor more than God is when he asks us to continually repeat words. If he is talking about repentance, he will say everyone say “repentance”. Again, I understand, but after a while, it seems to me, it is his way of getting applause without asking for applause. Additionally, in his sermon, he will ask, “If you are glad you are at church, say ‘I am'” These little things become irritating to me because, I am already in Church, I am there because I want to be. It’s like me going to the gym and someone asking me: “Are you glad you are here to work out?”
The last thing which seems to cause me grief is the altar call. After the sermon, the Pastor talks emotionally to us. “I don’t know what you are going through, maybe it is . . .” this or that or the other, but you are going through a hardship, bring it here to the altar, and take it off your shoulders and give it to the Lord.
Part of the issue I have with this is it feels and looks like, it is the Pastor who is receiving the prayers because all the while folks are going to the altar, they are standing on the stage above the folks coming to the altar. This altar call is done every service and seems as though, or feels as though it is a reflection on the Pastor rather than a prayer to God.
You see, there seems to be a lot of things Christians do that are not in the Bible. From having 1/2 the time in Church dedicated to singing to “The Lord”, to the celebrating “Lent” and other small things that seem to be more tradition than Christian.
We all know this: We celebrate Sabbath on Sunday rather than Saturday, we celebrate Christmas and Easter. All are more of a secular tradition than Biblical. What is funny to me, the one holiday we don’t attribute to our Christian faith, I believe is more Christian than the other two, this is Thanksgiving. Just the name of the holiday seems like it should be Christian. But it is the only holiday dedicated only to family and giving thanks for the things we have.
If I offended you by my complaints, I am sorry. But I do feel as though our churches get filled up more with things to glorify our Church and Pastor than God. Oh, like when the Pastor asks us to glorify God and show Him some appreciation by clapping, hooting and yelling. Again, in Church, I just don’t feel as though I need to prove to anyone my love, my faith, my relationship with God.
I am really fascinated with all the sermons one can find on YouTube. I am being more educated than ever before. One of the constant themes is how the church is getting absorbed into the secular world. It reminds me of the complaint about Lauren Daigle. As she has moved from the Christian music genre into the pop secular world, she has absorbed, kept close to her chest, her Christianity. The same as the Church is doing, they try and not be too Christian because they want and need to the congregation to increase in size. As Lauren wants her audience to increase in size.
This is all done with the spirit of God in our hearts, but as we let loose of our faith in order to attain none Christian rewards, we get swallowed. And without knowing it, when we look at who we are, we realize that we have not been a Christian for some time.
Back to my major point, changing the church I go to. Will I find a church that does not do these things – maybe some, but not all. But the main reason to change a church is why I have chosen a church in the past, that is the Senior Pastor.