OK, Time for a call to action. Don’t just read this post. Read it and do what it says. Continue reading
Has something that you see all the time ever caught your attention in a new way? The beauty of your wife’s face? The message hidden below the surface of your favorite movie? That stop sign at the end of your street that you always roll through until the morning when a police car is sitting on the cross street?
Me too. It happened to me today.
Throughout the Bible there is a phrase repeated over and over (or something like it):
Sacrifice of Praise.
Sometimes it’s called a “thanks offering,” or it may be put in other words. Because I’ve spent so much time in church, it is natural to breeze by these lines and think of Sunday gatherings. But today the question hit me:
When was the last time I sacrificed my own praise?
At this moment, I’m not talking about being the giver of praise to God, so much as being the sacrificing of people’s praises that are directed to me. Take a look at the verse that got my wheels turnin’ for more context:
Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of Praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.
When we confess Jesus as our savior, part of that is sacrificing our praise. It is so easy to come across as boastful, prideful, arrogant. While Paul does talk about boasting in Christ, I fear that too often we (or maybe I am the only one) boast in ourselves and try to cloak it in spirituality.
When someone praises you, do you sacrifice that praise and turn the focus on God?
Are we people who actually believe he is responsible for “every good thing?”
I mean really?
You will probably be praised for something today.
Let’s sacrifice that praise to the sustainer of life.
Our world has evolved past “church.”
That’s the general idea behind the term “post-Christian.” We used to be a Christianized (i.e. Westernized) culture, but have now grown enlightened enough that we can glean the teachings and leave the “church” behind. We are past “church.”
My wife and I recently had a very interesting conversation about what that brand of atheism/agnosticism looks like in our society today, and what will it look like in the future. More importantly, how will the Church be able to reach those who feel this way about “religion?”
Praise Bands of Old
Turn back the clock a few decades and the scene in any given church would be relatively rigid. Hymns. Pews. Scripted orders of service. Pastoral prayer. Stand. Sit. Stand. Sit. Stand. Kneel. Stand. Sit.
Enter the Praise Band. Songs that sound like those that you’d hear on the radio. Preaching outside (gasp!) the pulpit. The New International Version upending the iron grip of the KJV and RSV. Church started to become notably more “relevant” and the seeker-friendly movement was born.
Music was the catalyst that re-invigorated people’s commitments to their faith.
Thoughtfulness the new Praise Band
The biggest mistake we could make is to assume that a “post-Christian” society is the same as a “disinterested-in-Christianity” society. On the contrary, there are MANY folks out there that are highly interested in having conversations about issues of faith.
But they desire to have conversation (you know, with talking and listening), and they want to be able to ask questions of the Bible that are not met with “well, you just have to have faith.”
In short, those that have cast off “religion” have often cast off what they see as “empty,” or “mindless,” or “blind” religion. The way we can re-engage these very thoughtful nay-sayers is to be thoughtful about what we believe.
Return to doctrine.
Return to theological discussions.
Return from the land of spiritual lethargy and wrestle with why you believe what we do.
Return from the land of letting the Pastor interpret for you.
The churches that reach the vast numbers of unbelievers in the coming years will be the churches that encourage members to be thoughtful in what they believe and engage in the tough conversations.
Growing churches will be thoughtful churches.
What is your experience with thoughtfulness in religion?
As I write this, I am speechless. I have spent the last half hour crying my eyes out and this video was the last pebble holding up the dam. Check it out:
The video is from a new campaign called I Like Giving. The mission of the site is not to get more of your money, but to get more people thinking — and acting — generously.
This site is one of the purest and most beautiful applications of the gospel message I have seen in a long time.
So click here to learn more, or sign up to give the idea a 3-day trial run! As for me and my family, we are going to write our own “I Like _______.” story (watch the promo video or the “I like bike” video to learn where the name came from. I can’t wait to hear yours.
Do you already have an “I Like ________.” Story? Share it below!