I really encourage you to read this from one of my mentor’s blog. He surmises that the trend of our culture to be increasingly more selfish has infiltrated the church as well.
My hunch is that our worship choruses have more “I’s” and “Me’s” than “Us’s” and “We’s.” I do believe that trend is shifting some, but as a whole, I am certain that individualized worship of a personal God has dominated our worship scene over the last fifty years. Sermons have turned from mobilizing a movement to helping the individual.
Our programs or “ministries” tend to be more about meeting the needs of those who are members of the group rather than serving others in the name of Jesus.
My unqualified hunch is that preachers spend more time on helping people with their personal problems (with an occasional proof text) than they do interpreting the Story of God from Scripture in order to engage the called out ones in the world as the Sent Ones–not to be happy as a Blessed One.
I’m afraid our culture’s emphasis on ‘me’ has turned our pastors’ heads toward helping ‘me’ rather than calling ‘us’ to be a distinctive movement of people who reflect the priorities and practices of God.
I think he’s right but there is a tension that needs to be realized as well. I left a comment on his blog to try to explain.
Here’s the rub – people come to Christ with hurts, baggage, wounds, etc.
Some of us need that “focus on needs” in order to grow to a place to be able to minister outside of ourselves. We need the healing before we need the movement.
I realize that being in the movement and serving others outside ourselves can be healing. But sometimes there are wounds so deep that a little extra focus and care are needed.
So I find myself constantly saying to our congregation – Jesus loves you just as you are (and so do we). Jesus also loves you enough to not let you stay there (and so do we). He heals for a purpose larger than just for us to be healed. It’s to go back to the field and heal others in His name.
It’s like the hospital in the Army or on a ship. They fix you up to send you back. So as long as the “focus on needs” leads to re-entry in the movement – I’m okay with it.
It’s the cruise ship or battleship mentality. If I approach church as a cruise ship, then it is all about my needs, my wants, my schedule, my pleasure, and my leisure. The captain is there to keep me safe, the staff is there to keep me fed and entertained. If I see church as a battleship, I have a mission that I have a part in. The commander of the boat isn’t concerned for my safety but rather putting us all in a position to accomplish the mission. The staff is there to train me so that I will succeed in that mission.
Both ships have a hospital. On a cruise ship, their focus is to keep the rest of the cruisers well. Quarantine the sick, get them to port and off the boat. Don’t ruin the cruise for the rest of us. On a battleship, it’s to get people well enough to get back into the fight, back into the mission. It’s a completely different mindset.