Confessions Of An (Almost) Done

Confessions Of An (Almost) Done
June 12, 2015 Rick Chromey

by Rick Chromey

I went to church yesterday and left “almost” done.

I say “almost” because I’ve gone to church all my life. In fact, I’m a pastor and train clergy. But, truthfully, I’m almost done with churchgoing…at least on Sunday morning. It’s just not worth my time or energy.

Now before you criticize my spirituality, I’ll unashamedly profess my love for Jesus and deep affection for authentic Christianity. I welcome opportunities to worship, digest God’s Word, share my faith with friends, serve the unfortunate, give my wealth to help others, fellowship with believers, and experience the Holy Spirit’s presence. I embrace mission and long to see the whole world living beneath the banner of Jesus Christ. I love a church when it acts like the churches described in Acts.

The problem? It’s hard to find a church these days that embraces these ideals. I recently moved to a new community and started to “church shop.” In general, I find the mainline denominations too sickly, stuffy, or stuck while the evangelical community types seem more interested in producing a Sunday show. The small churches try to be bigger while large churches try to act smaller. Nickels and noses inform the leadership, with nearly all decisions guided by one person.

It’s why I’m almost done.

The politics and practices of churchianity have eroded my passion and purpose. Yesterday I attended a typical service at a megachurch’s satellite campus. The band was OK, but the songs were new, and few were singing. We all stood there and watched for 20 minutes. Then this hip, young, slightly balding, paunchy pastor started his new series titled “Conversations.” I love discussion and felt betrayed when all he did was lecture; there was nothing “conversational” about it. His primary point? Jesus needs to be experienced rather than explained. The reality is, neither happened. I couldn’t wait to leave.

Maybe I’ve grown too critical…or cynical.

Or maybe I’ve simply grown tired of modern churchianity. If so, I’m not alone. According to sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope’s groundbreaking study of people surprisingly like me, there’s a cohort of Christians known as church refugees or “Dones.” These post-church Christians have flown the proverbial coop. I believe there are countless more like me, testing our wings but not quite ready to leave.

You might call us the “tired and almost done” cohort.

 

Rick Chromey Blog Version B 06122015

So what would keep me in church? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Worship that promotes an experience with God. I like to sing, but what about prayer? Or experiential meditation? I hunger to feel I’m in God’s presence, whether I’m standing, sitting, or kneeling.
  1. A re-emphasis upon ancient rites like baptism and Communion. In the New Testament, baptisms were done immediately as people came to faith, and they were done everywhere and anytime. The Lord’s Supper was practiced every Sunday, although biblically it could be done “whenever” (1 Corinthians 11:26). We need to recapture these ancient—and commanded—rituals.
  1. Brief, interactive sermons. I love insight and inspiration, but I prefer to talk it out. And if you can’t say it in 20 minutes, call it a day. Most minds wander after five minutes anyway. My new book, Sermons Reimagined, suggests a template.
  1. A church not afraid to tell stories. Whatever happened to testimonies? Whatever happened to average Joes and Janes sharing their faith? Our history is His Story. Share the microphone.

In general, restore Acts 2:42: a gathering focused around biblical truths, community, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer. In a cyber culture hungering for authenticity, church shouldn’t be plastic, masked, or fake.

I prefer to get real. And I suspect you do, too.

Rick has a Doctorate of Ministry and is the author of Sermons Reimagined.

9 Comments

  1. Steve Simms 4 years ago

    I agree, Rick! I a “Done” who pastors a church in The Salvation Army and was given the freedom to experiment with non-traditional worship. Here’s what we do: We have a different worship leader each week. (In 7 1/2 years, we’ve had more than 80 people (or groups) lead worship for us.)
    –After worship we ask people to listen to God and then to share whatever He prompts them to share. Then we sit back and watch the Holy Spirit work. It is absolutely amazing. Every meeting is different from every other meeting, yet each one is extremely powerful! As various people around the room share testimonies, Scriptures, insights, exhortations, prayer needs, gifts of the Spirit, short teachings, prayers, etc., it all blends together into a beautiful demonstration of God’s presence, power, and love. Here’s more: https://stevesimms.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/reasons-for-being-unchurched-the-berry-street-alternative/

  2. Barry Rhoads 4 years ago

    Brother you look to young to be done! BUT I can completely relate. Going to get your book.

  3. Michael Rhodes 4 years ago

    You should visit our church. Everyone is encouraged to get involved, none come to be entertained. We do not measure our effectiveness by numbers, but on the impact God blesses us to have on the lives of people.

    Regarding Baptism, we do not rush to Baptize because we want to give people an opportunity to come to a clear understanding of what Baptism means before they are baptised. To date, everyone has proceeded with the commitment to be baptised after considering in a none emotional setting what they were doing. We have been operating like this for over 20 years and God continues to show his blessing of our efforts.

    By the way we do try to keep the sermon to 20 minutes, but you know how long winded some of us preachers get (smile).

    God bless.

    • Author
      Rick Chromey 4 years ago

      Michael, I would love to visit your church sometime (I have no doubt God is blessing you)! I’m always available for leadership training, consultations and special events. Please visit my website: http://www.rickchromey.com

      In regards to baptism, I understand the concern. It’s important for people to understand the meaning of this ancient rite, but I’ll stand by my comments that people can and should be baptized as soon as they come to agreement and acceptance of the Faith. In the book of Acts, people were baptized by river banks (Ethiopian eunuch), at midnight (Philippian jailer) and as soon a they proclaimed a belief in Jesus as the Christ (Acts 2:37-39, Day of Pentecost). There’s NO example of anyone waiting to receive baptism, once he/she professed faith.

      I also have no problem with the emotive informing a decision. Emotions stir us to choose. On the day of Pentecost, the people heard an amazing message and were emotionally “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). They asked Peter “what must we do?” These were good Jews in town for a religious festival. They were God-fearing people who were now learning about Jesus the Messiah. Peter told them plainly: “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). And they were. Was there some additional teaching involved? Probably, but only what was necessary, for baptisms were a common ritual to the Jew. You had to baptize (fully immerse) yourself prior to entering the temple courts in Jerusalem. Rabbis would baptize their disciples as a sign of followership. And various individuals (like John the Baptist) were constantly calling for Jews to repent of certain behaviors. So for Peter to call the Jews to “repent and be baptized” was nothing new.

      What was “new” was to be baptized “into Christ’s death and resurrection” (Romans 6:4ff) for spiritual benefits (forgiveness of sin and indwelling Holy Spirit). Christian baptism replicates the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s why full immersion was the primary mode. We are buried (under water) and raised to a new life. Peter connected forgiveness of sin and the indwelling Holy Spirit to baptism (Acts 2:38, see also 22:16) which, while disputed by some branches of Christianity, might also explain the immediacy of the act. After all, IF one’s sins were forgiven and the Holy Spirit given in the baptism (not the confession), then to wait would be foolish.

      I’ll leave the baptismal theology to you, but am still captivated by the early church’s practice of immediately baptizing converts to Christianity. I don’t think it’s rocket science nor believe it takes a great deal of study to “understand the meaning of baptism.” As Paul (then Saul) was told by Ananias, “Why wait? Get up and be baptized, washing away your sin, calling on His name (Acts 22:16).”

      Indeed, WHY wait?

  4. Janis Morris 4 years ago

    Sir, please forget all those things that you are seeking and just seek Jesus. You have him, everything he is, and everything he has in your spirit, you are always in his presence, your spirit is one with his, and the one thing that is needed is to ask him to reveal himself and his truth to you. Then you will not need to go somewhere to get something, Jesus is everything and he is part of you. I am his and he is mine.

  5. Bill Wagner 4 years ago

    Nice insight in this little article! But seriously, 20 minute sermon?

    I rarely preach at all. Sometimes I’m asked to preach at someone else’ church, then I guess this would apply.

    I teach and as I do, the discussion is off to the races! Sometimes 2, 2 1/2 hours go by before someone finally says, “do you realize what time it is?” Then that’s followed up by, “does anyone want more ice cream?”

    • Author
      Rick Chromey 4 years ago

      Bill, thanks for confirming the interactive component that I think is so desperately needed in preaching today. Be blessed in your service in the Kingdom!

  6. jonathan 4 years ago

    Great article! I certainly agreed with the spirit of rethinking how church is done, I often times think something is missing? Still I think it all comes down to the question “What is the point of a Sunday morning service?” We are “attractional” in our church so Sunday morning is the time when we reach out and put on a service that is designed first and foremost to lead people to Jesus and secondly to equip people for the work of Christ.

    We use our small groups as the things you’re talking about- prayer, experiential meditation, etc. That is where we tell stories and we even do communion in them.

    I think (like many people so) you assume Sunday morning is “church” when it reality it is only a small piece of a bigger puzzle- what if all the early church did was had Peter preach for salvation in the marketplace on Pentecost? That would be a very superficial church, but instead it was only a piece of a bigger puzzle- they met in homes, they took up funds.

    I think the bigger issue is we assume Sunday morning is the whole of the church and it’s just the tip of the iceberg (or in my opinion it should be)

    I appreciate what you said and you’re right By the way I am all for spontaneous baptisms and believe that is absolutely biblical (a friend I know has started it and it is amazing experience!) Anyways I am not trying to be critical I just thought this might be a constructive comment. Thanks again!

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