What can we learn about our churches from the new Pope?
It has been only a short amount of time since Pope Francis was introduced to the world – and already he has the Vatican scratching their heads…and the world loving every move he makes. In one of his first matters of business as Pope, the highest-ranking Catholic decided to swing by his hotel and pay his bill. Later, another news story came out about the Pope making a personal phone call to his paper-boy to tell him he was cancelling his subscription. “These are things that are normal,” you say. “What is so special?” The key here is that the Pope has every utility at his disposal. The hotel was run by the Vatican. NO one at the hotel would have raised a stink or batted an eye if the Pope stayed there and not payed. In fact, they may very well have MADE money to turn it into a tourist attraction! The Pope has an entire team to handle his affairs. He has no need to pay his bills himself or cancel a paper – those things can be “handled” by protocol. The big news here – is that Catholicism has a certain structure – a liturgy – an “understanding” of sorts…and the Pope is changing lots within their way of thinking.
Today, we read where the Pope is changing history again and, instead of beginning the Easter Tridumm at St. Peter’s Basilica he is leaving the Vatican to go to a prison and wash the feet of prisoners there! WOW! While most protestant Christians would look at this in amazement that the Pope is washing feet of others – the Vatican is looking at this as a steep deviance in history in that the Pope will be beginning the Tridumm outside the St. Peter’s at all. One thing is for certain – this new Pope is making huge waves and changes that the Catholic church would have never thought.
That brings us to protestant churches…
…what can we glean from this? The answer – PLENTY.
Quit Being Selfish Christians and Adapt To Change
There – I said it. I want to state first that I did not say “change what is written in the Bible to adapt your own theology”. My “change” is a complete change of what we are calling “liturgical” but should rightfully call “poor interior decorating”. We like our churches and all of our furnishings the way they are. Let’s watch a short video and then come back for a moment:
Most of you laughed. Some of you just thought it was bad taste that the leaders appeared to be “making fun of” worship. Others of you are missing the point and are still trying to determine where I am going with this after watching “an uplifting and spirited contemporary” service. Therein lies the problem. Many churches – calling themselves “contemporary” or “modern” look (today) very similar to what the video above calls out to be a 20 year-old church. Curious as to why? BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T CHANGED A THING IN ALMOST 20 YEARS!
In our own homes, we update. We get spring fever and decide to paint the walls. We notice that the lamps we have are a little “dated’ and we give them to Goodwill and we buy some new ones. We look at pinterest for the latest decorating trends, watch DIY and HGTV channels to learn how to better decorate on a dime…but we leave our Church homes untouched. Why? A number of reasons.
1. We are selfish. “This is MY church and this is how it as always been“. Nevermind the fact that a new person enters the church and all they see is decorating that is decades behind the curve ball. We want things the way they always were. The unreached want to be comfortable in their surroundings to worship. Which holds the greatest of importance?
2. We think everything in the church is God’s and, by default, it shouldn’t be touched. Ok…so part of this is true. Everything DOES belong to God – but I can assure you that He did not divinely come down and pick out that plastic plant or floral arrangement. Breathe easy – it is oooooooookaaaaay to change the furnishings in the church to something closer to today.
3. We should be focused on God – not furnishings. Fair enough. Then why are the dated ones there to begin with?
So why are these things important in the first place? Easy…lets go back to the house comparison. Let’s assume that you put your house on the market with your 20 year old furnishings and a potential buyer comes in. Most potential buyers would likely accept buying the house only after a few “updates” were made…right? We see this all the time on television real estate shows. If an unchurched person comes to your door at church – and sees 20 year old furnishings – don’t you think that they will become a little less comfortable and decide that they don’t want to “buy into” your church with its current furnishings? “But Jason,” you say ” if they are there for the furnishings and not for God then they have come to the wrong place.” Should we not be about the church’s work to also make the church as warm and inviting as possible so that they can LEARN what church is about while they are there? After all – your home is about your family and not decorations…right?
What were to happen if we “went Francis” on our churches and changed simple things that were otherwise gasped at? What is the payoff? How many people have never walked back into a church after visiting the first time because they went the next Sunday down the road to a church with more comforts?
I’m curious on this one. I’ve speedily written it….because I am passionate about the subject. Over the next few weeks I want to talk about some things to hopefully get you in the mindframe of thinking like a first-time guest. I am willing to take the punches – because I know some of you want to throw them at the nerve I have to make changes in our dated churches….
…so I am ready to listen to YOUR thought after you’ve heard mine. Do you agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts below in the comments. I would LOVE to hear them.