Sunday, May 3, 2015

Experience Him

Experience Him
May 4, 2015
1 Peter 2:3  ". . . if it is true that you have experienced that the Lord is good."

I was reading a recent article whose audience is significant in size.  The article described how churches are going to great lengths to appeal to different generations, trying to present the church in such a way that the un-reached person will darken their doors.  The use of strobe lights, smoke machines, disco-balls, lattes, and ipad giveaways are all marketing ploys to get the hip and trendy generation to visit and stay in a church.  The article discussed ways to get the millennial generation into a regular commitment.  This frustrates me greatly, because though I want the church to attract this generation and keep them there, it cheapens my church.  The use of gimmicks has a degree of trickery involved, to appeal to the subconscious so they come and consequently stay in church.  This is not how the Lord set it up at all.  There should be no trickery involved with Jesus, just honest testimony of who He was and is to each of us.

Jesus told us to "GO" and preach the good news, not to set up shop and trick people into subconsciously attending a church.  Church attendance is important yes, but I suspect anyone who stays at a church for any length of time is not there because of the trendy feel but the authenticity with which the church can meet their spiritual needs.  Smoke machines do not scream authenticity.  Jesus was effective because He met people and He affected their lives.  Those who trusted in Him and followed Him had a heart-felt experience with the person of Jesus.  I, too, have stayed dedicated to the Lord, not because the Lord appealed to my trendy behavior patterns but because I had a deep encounter with Him and ongoing experiences that keep me coming back for more.  The strobe lights actually detract from my authentic relationship with the Lord.

I would suggest that if people don't come back to a church after one or two visits, the reason rests more in the hollow experience perceived by their hearts, not the flavor of the latte.  The Apostle Paul said that a person who is wiling to growing in His continued walk with the Lord is one who experienced the goodness of the Lord.  Note the word "experience."  If someone does not return to a church after one or two visits then I would suggest they didn't actually experience the Lord.  Consider that if you, right now, saw the Lord of Hosts descend from Heaven into your room and heard Him speak directly to you regarding your future and His plan for you, it would be an experience you would never forget.  You would keep coming back for more because of the authenticity of your experience with Him.

People don't come to church because they aren't invited and people don't stay in church because they don't experience the real reason they are there, to have a meaningful encounter with Jesus.  If people are not returning to our churches, then the fault lies not with the lighting effects but more with the effects of their experience with the Lord.  The focus should be on creating an environment where the person has the opportunity to encounter Him in such a way that they will be coming back for more.  Some churches may work hard to invite the un-churched but how often do they work hard to invite the Lord to meet with them there.  I bet there are many churches that even Jesus wouldn't attend.  There is only so much that can tie me to a church, and if the Lord is not there, then I would not be committed either.  If we fail to reach this generation it is because this generation never actually experienced the Lord, a personal one-on-one encounter with Him who changes and saves lives.  Those who experience Jesus are those who stay committed to Him and are willing to grow in their knowledge of Him.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  2 Cor 8:1, 1 Peter 2:1-5

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