Have you ever seen one of those little old church buildings turned into a museum? It still has a steeple, the front door still has that inviting feel and you can just imagine how many brides walked it’s aisles.
I see those buildings on my travels sometimes and I wonder what happened, why did that church have to close? I mean museums are good and all, I like history as much as the next guy but a church building is where the church family is supposed to come together and worship the Lord.
Christians here in Canada and the U.S have grown accustomed to doing church our own way, and that’s fine but we need to remember that just because we do our worship our way doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the other ways are wrong.
Please do not misunderstand, I love my church! I love the teaching, the preaching, the music, the people, the food (oh my goodness, the food) we have a fantastic children’s ministry and we have people that love the community with a passion that I wish I had. We also have the foundational teaching that Christ is at the center of all of that, without Jesus a church is nothing.
Here’s the thing though, the way we worship at our church on Sunday would look completely foreign to the Apostles if they ever walked in on a Sunday morning. Foreign, not wrong.
The way Christians in China worship is different from how we do it, the same goes for Africa, Russia, Europe and even for the church down the road from yours.
I’m not saying that churches need to adapt in the way the world wants us to adapt. Rather, the church needs to adapt to its culture. It should always speak the truth straight from the Bible, it should always remain Christ centered and it should always do this in a way that is honoring to God, no matter which part of the world it’s in.
Let me give you an idea of where this is coming from, recently I was asked if my church was a “feel good church” and for those who don’t know what that’s supposed to mean allow me to explain…
“Feel good church” is a term coined by some of those more traditional churches that hold the opinion that churches today don’t teach enough about hell and damnation. The thinking is that today’s churches only preach a gospel of prosperity, of self help and making its parishioners feel good about themselves, a “feel good church” is only there to get people in the doors and to tell them how good they are.
Before I tell you whether or not my church is a feel good church, we need to answer two questions. First, how does scripture define worship? And secondly, what is the purpose of the church?
How does scripture define worship?
Sing to the Lord , for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world.
Isaiah 12:5 NLT
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
Hebrews 12:28 ESV
All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Selah
Psalm 66:4 ESV
That’s just three of many that I could have used and I hope it’s enough for you to get the point, worship is not about you or me, it’s about singing praises to the God who created us! It’s about letting God know that we are thankful for the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross.
When people say they serve the Lord, that word serve could be used interchangeably with worship.
When you serve the Lord, you are displaying a form of worship. Like when you tithe, you are worshipping, when you volunteer, it’s a form of worship, the same way standing up, singing and raising your hands is a form of worship.
Worship is not about making a person feel good, but feeling good during worship is a side effect. Singing feels good, everyone knows that, why else do you sing along to your favorite songs. Also, giving feels good, at least for me anyway, knowing that the money I give goes to help those in need makes me smile.
When you truly worship God you are going to feel good even though that’s not it’s purpose…I hope that makes sense.
What is the purpose of the church?
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers….
And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
Acts 2:42, 44 ESV
The purpose, at least according to what Luke says in Acts, and what Paul wrote to the Ephesians is for believers to come together, break bread, have fellowship and to follow the examples of the Apostles and of Jesus, who is the Cornerstone.
We come together on Sunday so that we can learn what the Bible says, sometimes that message is going to be convicting, meaning we will feel like we have fallen short. Sometimes the reading from the Bible will reveal to us that we have sinned which reminds us that it is our sin that keeps us out of heaven.
But sometimes the teaching from the Bible will make us feel good. Like when Jesus shows us how much He loves us, like when God shows the Israelites that He will take care of them, like when Jesus shows up on the road to Damascus preventing Saul from harming any more Christians.
There are feel good messages in the Bible and we don’t need to be ashamed of that. The gospel itself is a feel good message, it translates to the “good news” remember?
The good news is this my friend, you do not have to earn your way into heaven, Jesus already did! You don’t have to worry about obeying Levitical law, Mosaic law or ceremonial law, Jesus fulfilled them.
So to answer the question posed to me, yes sometimes my church is a feel good church. Christmas is a feel good time of the year and we celebrate the birth of the savior.
Sometimes though, the teaching I hear at church is a teaching that is hard to hear, so by definition it wouldn’t be a “feel good church” during those times.
Ultimately, church and worship are not about whether or not I feel good. I am a part of the church and I feel great about knowing that Jesus loves me, I feel good when I serve and when I worship but again it’s not about me, if I end up feeling good it’s only because Jesus loves me, not because I am good.