Gleanings from the Lectionary (11/18/11) – Elevate Jesus

Revelation 22:6-13

Having received the revelation, what was the apostle’s inclination? To fall to his knees and worship the angel who had given the revelation to him. “You must not do that!” the angel said. “Worship God.”

We are so susceptible to the cult of personality. Not only susceptible but we are often enablers of the same. But this presents a huge challenge for a church. Personalities retire. Pastors die. What happens then?

I read an article yesterday forecasting what many of us have seen coming – the challenges if not the potential demise coming to mega-churches. Usually they were built by a boomer with boomers. Boomers are nearing the end
of their tenure (This is when I conveniently claim to be an early Xer. . . And I am. . . Truly! . . You believe me don’t you?). Add to that the fact that these churches were usually built in rapidly growing areas which are now, twenty or thirty years later, stable or perhaps in decline. When market share slips, the churches can’t just pick up their $30,000,000 campus and move to the new up and coming suburb.

Lesson here: “You must not do that!” “Worship God.” The means of growing a church matter. When the church markets itself through its pastor or location it is setting itself up for failure as it is not pointing first to God. Indeed fleeting preferences, rock star preacher, contemporary music, casual dress or convenient location, are emphasized in practice more than undying truth. Don’t get me wrong. I am for removing pretense and it is folly to dismiss where the Holy Spirit is writing hymns upon the hearts of Jesus people in this day and age. But those things aren’t penultimate. They are not even secondary or tertiary. The only marketing slogans available to the church are in this vain – “We worship God” or ‘We decrease that He might increase.” I have not focus grouped those slogans but let’s be honest. I don’t think they will sell. You can market a church or pastor because we love a cult of personality. But not Jesus! You can’t market him. And when we try we are elevating something or someone else. Another lesson, intended or not!

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