May 15, 2015

Modern Laodicea - The Community Church

In general, the gathering/emergent/community/seeker friendly is identified as the last church, Laodicea.  Historically, they are the last to develop, having come to prominence and existence largely in the last 30 years.  Who were the Laodiceans and what does the Bible have to say about them?

Church Cafe
The text of Revelation 3:15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! Note, this is a busy church.  They have tons of events, social hour, coffee time, life groups ect - but they are lukewarm.

Revelation 3:16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! Jesus rejects the lukewarm, these people think they are saved but they are deceived.  This may refer to the water supply available in Laodicea and two nearby cities, Hierapolis and Colossae. Hierapolis was the site of hot, spa-like waters, used for medicinal purposes. Nearby Colossae was known for its cold and pure drinking water. (source)  If only the message was as hot as the designer coffee.

Revelation 3:17-18 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.  Clothing in the bible, is righteousness and only given to believers through coming to the cross in faith.

Mega Screen
Revelation 3;19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.  20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

The community church is Laodicean with a form of godliness devoid of power. Speaking in general terms and from a congregant that wandered around in this pathetic scene for a decade searching for a church that would feed me, this is what I observed:
  • The hipster pastor downloads his sermon series. 
  • The music is thumping but it is inward focused and reads like a 1st grade primer. 
  • The special effects show is entertaining with trapeze acts and fairy dust coming from the stadium rafters. There are life groups (dysfunctional group counseling sessions), sports ministry (where coaches cheat and parents scream from the sidelines), and manly men's groups called Bible Study in a Bar. 
  • There is Gay Sunday where everyone wears rainbows and talk about how the Jesus they love celebrates homosexuality. 
  • They pour their money into the offering plates and the hipster pastor and his wife live in $6 million houses but claim not to take a salary from the "church". 
  • There are 40ft screens for audio video presentations, a cafe, book store, but no cross. 
The worst offender in the group is that there is no meat preached, ever.  New Christians are never fed anything approaching solid food.  If they do actually get saved, they remain perpetual babies in the faith, carnal, and easy prey for wolves.

Mature believers that wander into this mix can't quite put their finger on the deep dissatisfaction they feel.  Everything is so nice and new!  The people are friendly, the musicians are good, then why are they so empty?  They convince themselves that it's just them, after all, this is the 5th church they have tried in as many years.

It's Vacation Bible School for Adults, every Sunday.  They should pass out crayons with their sermon notes and connect cards, at least then people would know what they were getting into.  On second thought, I got more meat in my 5 year old Vacation Bible School Class so maybe that isn't such a witty observation.

Jesus says, "I stand at the door and knock", He wants in Community Church but fair warning, to paraphrase CS Lewis, He is Good but He is not Tame.

(Disclaimer - this is a commentary, written from a broad stroke perspective, there are of course exceptions to these rules and many churches that are structured like this doing God's work.)