First Posted 28-Sep-2015
It’s how we do it. There is a bunch of music & singing, with a rock quartet, sometimes a choir also, some guy gets up and takes 30 minutes to say some simple words: if you want something, give your life to Cheezus. Maybe some prayer, again to say, if you want something, give your life to Cheezus, maybe some folk are up there at the alter getting prayed over for healing, for help with hard times, with whatever.
It is the brand of Krischeeanity that is like a room full of time share sales people. The whole point of the endeavor is to close the sale, to get those who are not saved to give their life to Christ, to say the prayer. That done, there is a lot of Alleluia and Amen and Praeeeeze Cheezus and Praeeeeze the Lawd and then? Then? Nothing. Crickets. Job done, right? We saved a soul, we sold Cheeezus to someone, good job no? No.
For one, every moment, every second after the prayer has been uttered, is a moment the church is responsible for. The newly saved and their business has now become our business. There is a whole lot to living as a disciple of the Way. That you or I, or anyone else said, “I give my life to Christ,” six words, is both meaningless and meaningful at the same time. It is meaningless if it means nothing in regards to how you live, how you behave. You can give your life to Christ with every shot of whiskey you drink, promise to go to meeting as you down each one, and it is bullshit.
Priests are not free of crime or sin. We get news stories of adultery, embezzlement, sex with children every decade or so. All that training, their ordination, and the life since, meant not a whit. They were (are?) still creatures of the world enjoying its many fruits and pleasures. Deciding to be a disciple of the Way can, in the near term, make a mess of your life. The choice only has meaning in how you live after saying the famous six-word prayer.
There are a whole lot of churches, though, that annoy me because I might as well be signing a contract agreeing to pay $650.00/month to Wyndham for points toward my annual two weeks at one of their resorts. It’s almost the same thing. I can get a lot of free stuff, maybe even some attention from the girls in the young-adult group, to induce me to say those six words. I sat through a sales presentation by Wyndham a few years ago so my Dad could get a discount toward tickets at Busch Gardens. The Wyndham sales people just wanted us to say one word, “yes.” But, during the four-hour sales pitch, I got the impression that Wyndham cares a lot more about the experience of its owner/guests than some churches do in the many moments after the six words are spoken. Every Sunday a new sales, pitch a new pitch for more newly saved, relentlessly, and like timeshare sales, what was done last week means nothing. It’s this Sunday, this week’s sales numbers that matter. Maybe also similar, that anything less than a spectacular increase in newly saved is a fail, a reason to just go eat worms and die. Leaving me, in the sanctuary, feeling like an even bigger, more miserable wretch than I did before worship. Thanks, pastor.
Why, again? do I show up here every Sunday to be upbraided again? It is how many churches do American, non-denominational Christianity. Those that do this? Fie on you. It’s not enough to just get someone to say those six words. We also have to disciple and serve them as they grow in their new life. I’m not part of the sales team. I’m there serving those who have yet to say the six word prayer and serving those who, though they may be saved, their life isn’t praiseworthy. I want to see a little less selling of Cheezus and a little more footwashing.