Thursday, July 29, 2010


When our daughters were young they often liked to play “church”. It was interesting how they concluded which role each of them would hold. I don’t recall there ever being any prayers said to guide them in their determinations. Instead, the decisions were made according to perceived abilities.

Susan, the oldest was selected to be the organist because she was the most capable pianist. Julie, the middle one was selected to be the pastor because she had a good, LOUD singing voice. And ... because you can’t play “church” without an audience, that role was thrust upon Laura, the youngest.

Julie’s personality made it natural for her to dictate to the others how things were going to run in their “church”. However, Laura was never easily persuaded. In fact, Laura often complained that she always had the “unimportant” job and that she didn’t like having to always do what Julie and Susan decided!

Julie would demand, “I’m the pastor and it’s my job to make decisions!” Susan would assert, “That’s the song that I know how to play. SO…that’s the one we’re gonna sing!” In her frustration with never having any say, Laura would retort, “Why do I always have to be the audience?”

As a result of sitting in a “church” pew every Sunday listening to their daddy preach, the girls had several liturgies memorized. However, because it was the one they heard most often, #158 was typically their service of choice!

When our girls get together now as adults, they reminisce and laugh about their childhood “church” services. Sometimes Gary & I fear that our sides are going to split from laughing so hard listening to their stories. Yet, when I think about the narrow view that they were given for all those years of God’s Kingdom and the family life of His citizens, my heart breaks!

All too often the fellowship of God’s people “play church” in similar stifling ways:
• Decisions are made without prayer!
• The “pastor” runs the show!
• The seminary graduate is the only one qualified to teach!
• The only folks capable of sharing God’s love through music are those “trained for the job”!
• Repetitious services having little to no presence of the Spirit’s power in them!
• And the concept that there should even be an “audience” in the Church at all!

Oh, the devastating affect this approach has on God’s Kingdom! Rather than “everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation” (1 Cor. 15:26), the “audience” is oppressed from lack of participation. Sadly, unlike Laura, offering little if anything of themselves, the majority feels unneeded or has expectations to be bottle-fed. While the “pastor” and musicians are puffed up over their “important roles,” the fellowship gradually becomes dehydrated from lack of Living Water and weak due to lack of exercise. And we wonder why “the church” is lifeless!


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