For the most part, I enjoyed it. And I'm sure most everyone else did.
And yet, there was something missing, and I knew it.
Over the years, I've grown more and more dissatisfied with the way church is done. My youth group was merely one example. Sometimes we're focusing on other things when we ought to be preaching, and when we are preaching, it's cotton candy and does practically nothing to give people what they actually need to apply the Gospel in their own lives.
I think this dissatisfaction is a good thing. It means we know we don't have everything right, and that there is a model for churches, one we're not currently meeting. Dissatisfaction with the way things are leads to change.
However, we must never mistake dissatisfaction for change for the sort of dissatisfaction that leads to division – and the problem is, they are very, very easy to confuse.
This past Sunday, I visited one of our home churches with the rest of my family for the first time since we've gotten back to America. One of the first things I noticed after the service started was that the church had switched to electronic drums.
And for the rest of the first song, I was only half-singing, distracted and more than a little annoyed at how wimpy the drums sounded.
After the first song, I got my head on straight and figured it was more important to worship Jesus than to get annoyed over drums. So I got over it and the rest of the service was great.
But that was a prime example of the wrong sort of dissatisfaction. My example was a really minor one, but you can easily apply it to another situation. A church changes youth pastors and the new one is boring, or one of the pastors leaves the church and a quarter of the congregation leaves with him, or the style of the worship changes and either the younger generations think it's too old or the older ones think it's too modern. There's a myriad of different manifestations of it.
My point is, in “critiquing” the modern church, we can become too dissatisfied with it. Because we dislike the way church is done we say we'll be done with church. The church has problems, and I'll be the first to agree. But it's still the church. We can't just abandon it or get annoyed with it and cause problems. The best way to change something is not by pulling out, but by pouring in.
I have problems with the amount of money spent on church buildings, to use another personal example. But I'm not going to get into a fight about it. What I am going to do is immerse myself in the Word of God (encouraging others to do the same) and then He'll do the talking from there.
If we're focused on God, He'll produce in us the right sort of dissatisfaction – the sort that leads to the right kind of change. But it's always important to distinguish between the two. One will lead us closer to the church in order to change it, and one will take us farther away because it hasn't changed.
Let's make sure we've got our heads on straight.