I have just finished reading a couple of books that interested me. One was Jim and Casper Go to Church, a book about a Christian, who for the sake of research and writing the book, takes an atheist, Casper, all over America to visit church services. With their laptops on hand, they would sit through services, then dialogue about the results, recording their insights for the future writing. Casper’s comments were more than intriguing and even comical at times. They went from small to large churches, liturgical to free-spirit, from coliseum to small store-front, wealthy to barely making it, well-known to unknown, flashy pastors to no pastor – so they covered all types of gatherings. Being a pastor’s daughter, with brothers in ministry, and married to a pastor, things about the church are always on my radar screen. Whenever we think we have seen it all in church life, we see one more thing and are amazed! The nagging question that Casper, the friendly atheist poses throughout the book is, “Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?” He saw it all and wondered if what we (Christians) say about Jesus is true, is this what he meant for us to be doing – church as he saw it across the nation? Is this it? It is like the old Peggy Lee (who’s she?) song, “Is That All There Is? I answer in my own simple way, “I don’t think so.”
Today, new churches are springing up everywhere and in all flavors. We have heard so much about different types of churches: purpose-driven church, liturgical church, reformed church, emergent church, age-integrated church, missional church, post-modern church, family church, and recently even the “simple church.” But even trying to be one of those seems complicated. So I have declared in my state of the church address to myself, that we are in the day of “the confused church.”
“Light shows, fog machines, worship bands, offering plates – is this what Jesus intended?” Great question and yet I don’t think we have to take Casper’s interpretation of church life as the “gospel”, but I am so ready for my generation to ask the questions Casper was asking. You may just have to read the book. What do you think? I am searching and inviting you to ask God maybe for the first time, “What did you have in mind when you said ‘church’ in the New Testament?” What is our mission? What kind of church will we be a part of? Will our children see and know the reality of God through our church? How will we in this generation lead people to be followers of Christ, and not the church, especially the confused church? I have hope there is an answer!