We do these outreach nights every month or so where the idea is to help you think about how & why the church isn’t weird. Our hope is that maybe some people who think the church is a weird place might come to find that it can actually be quite normal.
Truth is, a lot of people probably think the church is this weird place.
Let’s think about this word weird, for a minute. You probably know some people who are weird. People at school, or maybe your family. My cat likes to take showers…pretty weird.
But look at the definition of the word, weird: 1) involving or suggesting the supernatural; unearthly. 2) very strange; bizarre. It’s not just “different,” but almost “alien” or “foreign.” Means “to be from another world.” So we say, “It’s weird that my cat likes to take showers,” because most cats hate water. But actually, he’s just different than most. He’s still a cat. Not E.T. Even though when wet he may look like E.T.
So we could say we exaggerate when we use this word. We say extreme things to make a point. When I’m hungry, “I’m starving.” For most things it’s not that big of a deal, but I think when it comes to being a part of the church, it is a big deal. Remember I said the point is to help you see that the church isn’t weird. I want to challenge your thinking here on what is “weird.”
Think about this verse: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29
We read things like this in the bible (and there are a lot of commands like this) and I think the church gets a bad reputation because of it.
My parents growing up were very strict in the sense that they wanted us to behave like good Christian children; they didn’t swear, and we weren’t allowed to either. Well one day I’m getting in my car to drive my brothers somewhere and they start fighting over who gets to sit shotgun (all the while my dad is standing nearby working in the garage). Finally the argument boils to 212 degrees and one of them yells, “Get in the damn back seat.” I remember my dad calling him over in his low, stern voice. He got grounded or something, I don’t recall.
Here’s the thing. In society, swearing is looked down upon too. Try swearing in a job interview and see where that gets you. So why do we look at the church/bible as if there are a bunch of weird rules we need to follow, if the same is true elsewhere? I’m not saying swearing is ok, but is the bible saying, “Don’t swear” here in Ephesians 4:29? I think it’s more concerned about encouraging, edifying talk. Have your parents ever said to you, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all?” Sure sounds like that’s more of what this verse is trying to say, doesn’t it?
I think the bible’s rules are quite normal. How did it get to be so weird then to people?
History of youth separating from adults (according to Dave from random books I’ve read). The bible actually wasn’t always a weird book:
- In the old days (1900’s) everything you did happened at home – you’d work on the farm, you’d be home-schooled, you’d play games as a family. You actually wouldn’t survive if you left your family.
- But then after WWII (1950’s), the term “teenager” was created. More kids started attending High school and society began to market (sell things) to the younger generation.
- Stat: 1920 – 13% of children went to HS; 1950 – 93%
- A separation began. A new culture was created. Maybe this ultimately is what has led to rap music, etc.
- So when the bible talks about “unwholesome talk” we need to understand it in the previous culture. “Honor your father/mother,” yea they’d do that. Though still difficult to follow, you didn’t have much choice.
- Today then, could we say that culture is more extreme? Do these words push people away from church when it was simply intended to be encouraging? Times have changed.
So what does it mean to be a part of the church today?
Remember how I said that some people think the church is weird? Or maybe they just think it’s uncool, or that they’re just unable to follow all the rules. That’s absurd. These rules and thoughts aren’t so weird. Times have just changed. And those of us in the church have a really big job to do.
We need to ask: So how do we make it normal again?
The church actually isn’t weird, it’s just different. Just because it talks about heaven doesn’t mean it’s about some alien place. We’re all people, living on earth.
Here’s, I think, how we make it normal again:
Faith is about your whole life. There’s no school you, church you, and family you. It’s not about acting one way ( i.e. swearing) in one place, and another way in a different place (i.e. church as a holy place). I suppose that means you need a group of people who really know you. That you don’t hide things from. And these people need to love you/accept you unconditionally. And to that I just have 2 words: small group.
Yea, the bible says things like, don’t let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth. Yes, it’s hard to do. But it’s not weird, it’s just different than what most people are doing around you.
Being a part of the church then means that you have to change some things:
- Changing the way I think. Understand that it’s normal.
- Changing the things I do. Being a part of the church means not doing things just because everyone else does (i.e. unwholesome talk).
If we do this, I think we’ll help people see that the church is actually quite normal.