This summer I visited two churches but I have decided to not review them as I usually do. The reason is that I have some highly negative thoughts about these two churches. I thought about not saying anything but I do want to address the issues.
The first church I visited this summer was a world famous mega-church. The music was great. The people warm. The worship environment was creative and cool. The problem I had with the worship though was the sermon. The pastor gave a sermon on 2 Kings 5:1-15a. The Scripture reading stopped at a high point with the words of Naaman saying, "“Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel." The reading stopped at this point, half way through the sentence which was great since it emphasized whole point of the passage. I was excited with the prospect of such a great sermon. Then we got a message on baptism. I realize there are only so many texts on baptism, but why take this passage with such a grand theme and make it into something it is not. I blame this sort of exegesis for people coming up with whacky interpretations and then thinking it is okay. Sort of disappointing to go to a world famous church and hear a message that basically is consider evangelical in its theological position but for the most part unrelated to the Bible passage being discussed.
The second church I visited was a good church from what I could tell. The music was good. The projection of words and images was fantastic. The sermon was good. What I found disappointing was that much of the discussion was about the organizational life of the church and not about God. Yes, they did mention God. They preached from the Bible. However, instead of hearing about the transcendent one, I heard about a temporally relevant program, which left me wondering whether I would get something transcendent from that program if I decided to participate. Since I do not live in that community or state, it would not be practical for me to consider that as an option. I would rather hear a creed than a mission statement. I would rather hear timeless truth than hear about an organization.
As I have matured, I have gotten to where I want to meet God during worship. I do not want to be impressed with talent, though I do like to hear talented people speak and sing. I do not want to see a performance, though I do hope those leading are well prepared, perhaps even rehearsed. I do not want be entertained, though I do hope to be engaged in hearing from God himself. When I come to worship, I want to be in the presence of God. I want to hear something that is on his heart, not something that is earthly. I live in the temporal, I thirst for the eternal. I live in the systems of this world, I want to be ruled by the Lord himself.