Something’s Not Quite Right
I’ve grown up non-denominational for the most part, and have been in modern/contemporary churches most of my life. Shortly after graduating college, I become discontented with the church as a whole. I felt like there was something wrong with it.
The church seemed too political, too hateful, too judgmental, and too consumeristic. I was out of church for most of three years before joining back up with a modern, hip church nearby. After being away from Christian Culture for a while, my wife and I were a bit disturbed by things we witnessed in the church (i.e. tens of thousands of dollars being spent on light displays, expensive conferences, a membership oath/vow that had to be made before being allowed to participate in various church ministries, special offerings to “bless” the wealthy in the church).
Having a heart for out-reach and seeing my city changed, I tolerated what I felt was wrong. I signed the membership oath (which included promising to tithe, attend services regularly, and support church pastors/leaders in every decision and teaching) so that I could take part in the outreach ministries. I led worship teams, I taught in prisons, and I served in any way that I could.
But I could never get over the gnawing feeling in the back of my mind that something wasn’t quite right (aside from the obvious things). Most of the times I led a ministry, I felt burned out and discouraged. I realized this modern way of doing church simply does not work for me.
The Unspoken Demand
In today’s church, there is an unspoken demand to entertain. We use other phrases like “keep them engaged” or “make it relevant.” While I do believe that in most ministries there is a genuine desire to see God move in people’s hearts, numbers end up becoming the driving force. We need these people to come back every week, or else we’re going to go out of business (for a smaller church) or the pastor may not make as much money as he wants (in a larger church). The better you entertain, the more likely they are to come back.
Because I’m a bit of a geek, I decided a couple of years ago to begin researching church history. It was in these books that I found out about this Eastern Orthodox Church.