Doing Church in the New Millennium

It is one minute before midnight, December 31, 2000. Some think it is an angel poised on the cloud. They see a bright vessel in his hand and conjecture that it contains peace, goodwill, and prosperity. These people smile in anticipation. Others view the figure as dark and twisted. They see a shadowy being holding a large black box. These people periodically glance anxiously toward the cloud.

The crystal ball drops, the people scream and kiss and, based on the Gregorian calendar, the new millennium begins. Only the most observant see the twisted, dark figure pour perceptions from the sky, perceptions capable of creating thoughts and conclusions; perceptions powerful enough to change the standards of normal for the world’s relational groups.

With lightening speed, organizations change. Even Christ’s Church transforms from being (presence) to doing (performance) with secular and familiar coiling around sacred and tradition, crushing them together until they are blended and inseparable. This blending of sacred and secular is regarded by some Christians as enlightenment and is immediately accepted.  In many churches, care and concern are replaced with self-interest and defensiveness.

Inexplicably, church leaders are infatuated with a new paradigm that is based primarily on values not dissimilar from those of secular culture. Innovative thinking provides the structure for such actions as using Aretha Franklin’s hit song, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” for the closing song during Sunday “Alternative Worship,” incorporating rock guitar as a staple when creating new worship tunes, producing a club atmosphere in sanctuaries by dimming audience lights and installing stage lighting, adding a rock beat to traditional hymns, and placing cute little ladies wearing short skirts and boots on-stage to dance.

I’m trying to recall who said, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Oh yes, that was written long ago by Paul Somebody (Romans 12:2 NIV).

This could be page one of a thousand-page book. But it may be just a one-day reflection.