Thursday, May 3, 2012

A New Religion

The cool kid churches hate 'religion'.

Have you noticed? The new religion of being non-religious? The new extra 10 commandments for churches and pastoral staff:

1. You shall wear jeans and flip flops to church. Elder, if you are over 50, you shall also wear hawaiian shirts.
2. You shall not use a hymnal {under any circumstance, even to prop up a table}.
3. You shall mention in passing that you drink red wine, only at home, only with your wife.
4. Your shall post recycle bins at more or less convenient locations; however, never in the women's restroom to catch paper towels.
5. You shall have a coffee bar, for espresso is a holy drink, provided it has a lid.
6. You shall offer your sermons on podcast.
7. You shall teach exegetically {verse by verse through a book}. Topical studies shall be used only on occasion to teach stewardship and marriage.
8. You shall refer often to deceased theologians: Spurgeon, Luther, Calvin, Owen, and anyone else who makes you look intellectual. Do this, so that non-Christian elitists in the congregation will know that you are not brain-washed, unstudied hicks, but brain-washed, learned hicks.
9. You shall only meet as a large group on Sundays. If you want to see more of each other or eat together, you shall meet in a small group throughout the week, to be divided by common life stage or interest or family structure and to study sermon-based material posted to the blog.
10. You shall blog. And tweet. And keep a facebook page. And when you have excelled in secular social media, you shall create your own network.

I jest.

Well, sort of.

I like most of these 'rules'. I was raised in a church that helped come up with the new rules for non-rule following churches. They're my church comfort zone. Leading people out of religion into relationship. It's a good motto, but it's not true. We moved people from an old liturgy into a new, sleeker one.

Religion - from Latin religare - to bind, tie; compare to a ligament.

Religion binds us together, like our ligaments holding bone to bone. All together creating the body of Christ.

The church is a funny thing, a quirky living entity made up of every believer, every culture, every age. It's easy to get caught up in the quirks and issues, moan about latte prohibition in the sanctuary or about disrespectful slurping from travel mugs during worship.

The rules are never perfect. Jesus never told us how pastors should dress or how big baptismal fonts should be or how many singers should be on stage at a time. He left us to wrestle through those issues together. A group problem that draws us into cooperation with each other {however, it would really ease conflict if Elijah had 'seen' whether the senior ministry needs a people mover}.

New religion or old, no matter how silly, binds us together.

It also makes us slightly ridiculous, these arbitrary rules we add. How to worship God correctly. Our scope of worship is so small. Who are we to make rules?

I find it cathartic to mock. Lightens the mood when conflict arrives. Our religious rules are not true, not Biblical. Because...

Religion that is pure and and undefiled is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Oh wait, I guess Jesus did answer that religion question.

Need to laugh at our own ridiculousness? Check out Jon Acuff's Stuff Christians Like.

Got any rules to add? I'm all ears.

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